INDIANS (73-50) AT YANKEES (82-42)
1:05 p.m. ET; YES, MLBN, ST-OH, MLB.TV
There is a strong possibility the Cleveland Indians (+1.5) and New York Yankees (-1.5) could wind up as postseason opponents for the second time in three seasons.
A blowout in the series opener highlighted Cleveland’s torrid play in the last two months, and New York’s 3-2 win on Friday had the feel of a postseason game, similar to the close five-game series the Yankees won in 2017.
After two drastically different games to start the weekend, the Indians and Yankees continue their four-game series Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
New York evened the series by getting two hits and two runs from slumping Aaron Judge, 6 1/3 effective innings from Masahiro Tanaka and a diving catch by center fielder Brett Gardner on Francisco Lindor in the eighth inning with the tying run on second base.
“This is a team we’ll see in the playoffs for sure down the road, and the crowd was into it from the very first pitch on,” Judge said a night after going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts.
The Yankees (82-42) clinched their 27th consecutive winning record since 1993. It is the second-longest streak in major league history behind the Yankees’ run of 39 seasons from 1926-64.
New York also enters Saturday with 15 wins in its past 18 games and a 10 1/2-game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East.
Cleveland hit seven homers and collected 24 hits in a 19-5 rout on Thursday. One night later, the Indians were held to four hits.
“Nobody expected this series is going to be easy for us,” Cleveland right fielder Yasiel Puig said Friday after homering and committing a fielding error that allowed a run to score. “This is a good team that we faced.”
Jose Ramirez had three of Cleveland’s hits and he hit his third homer of the series. Ramirez is a significant reason why Cleveland is 44-20 since June 4 and is turning the AL Central into a neck-and-neck race with Minnesota while also ascending to the top of the AL wild-card race.
He is 5-for-7 in the series and is batting .331 (50-for-151) since July 4. He also has 53 RBIs in his last 54 games since June 14.
James Paxton (8-6, 4.40 ERA) seeks his fourth straight win when he starts for the Yankees on Saturday. Paxton is 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in his past three starts.
Paxton last pitched in the opener of Monday’s doubleheader against Baltimore, when he allowed three runs on five hits in six innings.
The left-hander is 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA in four career starts against Cleveland.
Rookie Zach Plesac (6-3, 3.27 ERA) will make his 15th career start and second against the Yankees. He beat the Yankees on June 7, when he allowed two runs in seven innings.
Plesac is 3-0 with a 2.53 ERA in six starts since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on July 16. The Indians are unbeaten in those games, including Monday’s outing against Boston, when Plesac allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings in a game decided by Carlos Santana‘s walk-off homer.
–Field Level Media