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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Cleveland's Jose Ramirez fields a ball as he is chased by Francisco Lindor during a team workout on Wednesday in Cleveland.

Thursday, October 05, 2017 1:00 am

Runners-up set to make another run

Indians must top Yankees, Judge in first matchup

TOM WITHERS | Associated Press

ALDS

New York vs. Cleveland

What: Game 1

When: 7:38 p.m. today

Where: Progressive Field, Cleveland

TV: FS1

CLEVELAND – They ran away with their division again, and streaked to history, 102 wins and home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. The Cleveland Indians have had a special season.

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

Heartbroken after coming up a little short last year against the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland figured to make it to October for another swing at ending a World Series drought stretching back to 1948.

The Indians are back, but there's a 6-foot-7, 280-pound baseball-bashing behemoth standing in their way.

Behold Aaron Judge.

On the same field where their magical 2016 postseason ended on Nov. 2 in a light rain and extra innings, the Indians will open the division series tonight against Judge and the New York Yankees, who rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins in the wild-card game.

Unaffected by a larger stage, Judge hit a two-run homer in his playoff debut as the Yankees overcame a 3-0 deficit in the first inning and won their first postseason game in five years to earn a best-of-five matchup against the defending AL champs – the team favored to win it all.

“We're not done yet,” Judge said. “We've just got to keep it rolling in Cleveland.”

And while fans across the country are excited about watching the colossal Judge, who blasted 52 homers as a rookie and seems to hit the ball hard, face Indians ace Corey Kluber and baseball's deepest pitching staff, Cleveland manager Terry Francona isn't as thrilled.

“He's good for Major League Baseball,” Francona said of Judge. “He's bad for the teams you're playing against. He's really good. From all accounts, he's a really special young man. I didn't get a chance to meet him at the All-Star Game because I wasn't there, but everybody came back raving about him as a person.

“I know, if you throw in the wrong place, he's going to hit it a long way.”