Yankees use LeBron James to troll the Indians ahead of ALDS

Tricia Pearson
October 6, 2017

The Yankees finished the regular season winning 20 of their last 28 games - pretty good, but not as good as the Indians' 33-4 sprint to the finish line.

A new one, the only one, is about to begin.

Last October was a rare instance where the team with the best record in baseball won the World Series, which is something to keep in mind before laying the favorite.

There is much more to the Yankees than the 6-foot-7 Judge, too.

The New York Yankees cruised past the Minnesota Twins in the American League Wild Card game Tuesday evening by the final score of 8-4, so we now know the matchups for both series in the American League. Brett Gardner (2-for-4 with a homer) set the tone for the top of the order, as the first four batters - including Judge, Gary Sanchez and Gregorius - combined to go 7-for-15 with three homers, six RBI, a double, three walks and score all eight of their team's runs.

The addition of Verlander, who has been brilliant since joining his new club, tilts the series in the Astros favor but they face a Boston rotation anchored by Chris Sale in the best-of-five series. "He's bad for the teams you're playing against". "I'm ready. I want to get back out there".

The Cleveland Indians are done marveling at their record-setting season, focused instead on avenging their dramatic extra innings Game Seven loss in last year's World Series and snapping Major League Baseball's longest title drought.

It makes sense. Then again, it seems risky.

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NY will counter with Sonny Gray, acquired at the July 31 trade deadline to help get NY into October. Indeed, Cleveland featured the best pitching staff in the entire game, allowing a major league-low 3.48 runs per contest. And the character the Yankees showed to pull out the victory - turning the page on a terrible start, immediately responding to get back in the game and doing the unconventional - may make NY the team no one wants to face. "They've got some scrappy guys that put the ball in play and run", Bauer said. "I may be asked to do things I'm not normally used to doing, but it doesn't mean I can't go out there and do them".

So can the Indians, who don't have a hole in their lineup and finished strong, stringing together 22 straight wins from August 24 to September 14 and winning 33 of their last 37.

So, what must Cleveland do to overtake the Yanks and face either the Red Sox or the Astros in the AL Championship Series?

"Everybody's even", Francona said.

"If you look at some of the outings against them, (Gray) fared as well as any pitcher that we have", Girardi said. "It's going to be who plays the best".

"Cleveland has got a good bullpen, that's for sure". Girardi is going to have a quick hook and depend on his litany of relievers.

It's amusing to talk about the midges now, but seriously, the midges nearly certainly cost the Yankees that game (you should read Anthony Castrovince's article about it). But that's just something every victor has to flirt with - a natural attraction to other great winners, and the Yankees' illustrious history has its allure for champs like LeBron.

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