Aaron Judge runs the bases after his home run in the first inning. (David Dermer)
Aaron Judge hit a tone-setting two-run homer on Shane Bieber's fourth pitch, Gerrit Cole struck out 13 and the New York Yankees opened the American League playoffs with a landslide 12-3 victory over the Indians of Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Just a few miles from where the Trump-Biden presidential debate took place, the Yankees made a big statement by first hitting Bieber, who was the best pitcher in baseball in the condensed regular season, but looked average in his debut in the playoffs.
Judge and the rest of the New York hitters hadn't faced Bieber in 2020, but they were well prepared and took some meaty cuts against the 25-year-old ace, who allowed season-highs in runs (seven) and hits (nine). ) in 4 2/3 innings, his shortest stint since June 9 of last season against the Yankees.
The best-of-three series continues Wednesday night with Carlos Carrasco trying to save Cleveland's season against Masahiro Tanaka.
When Bieber's final pitch echoed loudly into the empty left-field bleachers with Gleyber Torres' two-run homer in the fifth, the Yankees were up 7-2 and had delivered a loud postseason message to the rest of baseball: I don't know. forget about us.
Then Bieber handed the ball to the Indians' interim Puerto Rican manager Sandy Alomar Jr. and walked slowly to the Cleveland dugout, seemingly carrying all the city's hopes for a long playoff run. The Indians have lost seven straight playoff games.
With a head start on Judge's home run, Cole showed why the Yankees shell out # 324 million for him in the offseason . The right-hander allowed two runs, including Josh Naylor's home run in the fourth, and six hits in seven innings.
Naylor went 4-4 and became the first player with three extra-base hits in his postseason debut.
Cole's strikeouts were the second-most by a New York pitcher in postseason history. Roger Clemens fanned 15 in Game 4 of the 2000 ALCS.
Brett Gardner added a two-run homer in the seventh for the Yankees and Giancarlo Stanton hit a single shot in the ninth.
Judge hit his first home run since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 16, and the first allowed by Bieber at home this season, which gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead.
DJ LeMahieu, the AL batting champion, led off with a single before Judge – who missed 29 games with a strained calf – off Bieber's first pitch, a fastball down the middle of the plate, past the wall in the center right.
For the Indians, Puerto Ricans Francisco Lindor 4-0 and Roberto “Bebo” Pérez 3-0.