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[BBL] Oct 11, 2017

MLB Playoff Preview: Yankees at Indians

By Gracenote

New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians (-0.5; 7.5)

The Cleveland Indians have not lost three games in a row since July 30-Aug. 1, though it had been almost seven weeks between back-to-back setbacks before they dropped Games 3 and 4 of the American League Division Series. The AL's top seed will try to avoid a first-round knockout when the Indians host the surging New York Yankees in a decisive Game 5 of the ALDS on Wednesday.

The Yankees, who will start veteran lefty CC Sabathia on Wednesday opposite Cleveland ace Corey Kluber, are playing their third must-win game already in the playoffs after winning the wild-card game and staring down a 2-0 deficit in the ALDS, and are confident in their ability to handle the pressure. The Indians won 33 of their final 37 regular-season games but have arguably been the lesser team in this series and struggles at the top of the lineup from Francisco Lindor (1-for-14, five strikeouts) and Jose Ramirez (2-for-17, seven strikeouts) are part of the problem.

PITCHING MACHUP: Yankees LH CC Sabathia (0-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (0-0, 20.25)

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was heavily criticized for several decisions in Game 2's 13-inning loss, but the main gripe was his decision to yank Sabathia after 77 pitches and 5 1/3 innings. The 37-year-old retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced and left with a five-run lead before watching the bullpen and Girardi let him down.

Kluber suffered through his worst start of the season in Game 2, serving up six runs on seven hits - two homers - in 2 2/3 innings but was let off the hook when Cleveland stormed back for the win. Kluber started Game 7 of the World Series for the Indians last October, and his team has plenty of confidence in the Cy Young candidate.

WALK-OFFS

1. AL home run leader and Yankees RF Aaron Judge is 1-for-15 with 12 strikeouts in the series and is still looking for his first homer.

2. Indians DH Edwin Encarnacion (ankle) sat out the last two games and will have his availability re-evaluated prior to Game 5.

3. Cleveland committed four errors that led to six unearned runs in Game 4's 7-3 loss.
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