Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yankees Run into Indians Steamroller in Game 1

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Yankees Run into Indians Steamroller in Game 1

Article excerpt

CLEVELAND – Baseball's best team listened patiently as the Yankees declared themselves October's dark horse, capable of beating anyone – yes, even the Indians themselves. It was a great narrative, especially after the dramatic takedown of the Twins in the wild-card game.

But reality kicked down the door at Progressive Field on Thursday night: The Indians are certainly not the Twins. Trevor Bauer is Cy Young compared to Ervin Santana, and despite the home run power sprinkled up and down the Yankees' batting order, good hitting is never a match for a long night of power fastballs and absolute killer curveballs like Bauer's.

So here stand the Yankees, 4-0 losers in Game 1 of the AL Division series, looking to CC Sabathia to somehow prevail over the American League's best starter, Corey Kluber. It's not an enviable predicament. The Bombers realized that each of their strengths was neutralized by a better team. The Yankees are good. The Indians are simply great.

Joe Girardi might've thought he lucked out when counterpart Terry Francona chose not to start Kluber in the opener. But, instead, everything went wrong for the Bombers - from their inability to solve Bauer's curveball, to Sonny Gray's inability to contain Jay Bruce, who was 2-for-2 with three RBIs off Gray, including a dramatic two-run HR in the fourth inning.

Just like that, the Bombers' aura of invincibility is gone. They didn't manage their first hit until the sixth inning and finished with just three.

Their struggle to keep up with Bauer was evident even in the first inning, when Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, the pistons of the Bombers' home run machine, both struck out, overwhelmed by Bauer's curveball.

Judge ended up 0-for-4, striking out all four times.

"(Bauer) did a good job with his curveball," Judge said afterwards. "He likes to play around with it, but he buries it when he needs to. We'll just have to come back (tonight) and be ready."

That was the theme throughout the clubhouse – recharge, regroup and re-ignite the engine that'd catapulted the Bombers into October. But Chase Headley spoke to the greater truth when he said, "every team you face in the playoffs is obviously really good."

Cross your fingers is what he really meant. The Yankees will need a little luck to survive the Indians, who believe it's their destiny to flatten everyone and everything in their path in 2017.

That goes for the Astros or Red Sox, the AL's other division winners, and especially the Yankees, who have talent and youth but not much experience or pedigree.

That's why Game 1 was so important to both clubs. For the Bombers, it was a chance to penetrate the Tribe's cocoon; a wake-up call that the path to the World Series won't necessarily be smooth and unfettered.

The result couldn't have been more depressing to the Yankees, who managed just two hits off Bauer before he was removed by Francona. …

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