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Yanks, Indians set for Game 1 with aces in hole

CLEVELAND -- When the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians meet Thursday night in Game 1 of their American League Division Series at Progressive Field, something will be missing from both teams: their aces.

Yankees ace Luis Severino started the AL wild-card game against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, making him unavailable for a Game 1 start.

Indians ace Corey Kluber is rested but will start Game 2 instead of Game 1 because manager Terry Francona wants to have Kluber available, on his normal day to pitch, for a potential Game 5.

Instead, it will be New York's Sonny Gray vs. Cleveland's Trevor Bauer in Game 1 on Thursday.

The Indians come into the game with the best record in the American League, 102-60, having won 34 of their last 38 games, a streak that included their American League-record, 22-game winning streak.

The Indians went 5-2 against the Yankees this year. Three of those wins came during Cleveland's 22-game winning streak.

"We were part of that (streak). We were in the early part of it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They've really been on a roll the last 50, 60 games, playing as well as anyone. Obviously, we're going to have to play our best. We know that. But that's the way the playoffs should be."

One of the biggest challenges for Indians pitchers will be trying to neutralize Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge, who hit a rookie-record 52 home runs this season and added another in New York's 8-4 win over Minnesota in the wild-card game.

"He's good for Major League Baseball, but he's bad for the teams you're playing against," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I know if you throw it in the wrong place, he's going to hit it a long way."

In 27 starts overall this year for the Oakland A's and New York, Gray was 10-12 with a 3.55 ERA. In 11 starts for the Yankees, he went 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA. He started three times against the Indians this year, going 1-2 with a 4.86 ERA.

"Top to bottom, they have a really good lineup," Gray said. "I've thrown against them a couple times this year, and in the past I've thrown against them. They are really well balanced. You come out and make pitches, and you see what happens."

Gray's last start against Cleveland came on Aug. 3, a 5-1 loss in which he pitched six innings, giving up four runs, two earned, on four hits, with six strikeouts and three walks in his Yankees debut. Gray's career record against Cleveland is 3-3 with a 3.38 ERA.

Bauer had a breakout season this year, going 17-9 with a 4.19 ERA. In two starts against the Yankees he was 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA.

"They've got a lot of guys who hit for power. They've got some scrappy guys that put the ball in play and run," Bauer said. "They can do a lot of things offensively, and they're well balanced."

Bauer said his good numbers vs. the Yankees this year don't count for anything in October.

"None of that matters for this start," he said. "The playoffs are a different animal, and any team can beat you on any day."

Bauer's last start against New York came on Aug. 30, a 2-1 win in which he pitched six innings, giving up one run on four hits with four strikeouts and four walks. In eight career starts against the Yankees, Bauer is 3-4 with a 4.20 ERA.

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