What Indians manager Terry Francona fears about the Yankees besides Aaron Judge

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Sonny Gray will start for the New York Yankees in game one of the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.

The Yankees finished the regular season winning 20 of their last 28 games – pretty good, but not as good as the Indians’ 33-4 sprint to the finish line.

All of that came into play in dispatching Minnesota because the Yankees found themselves in as bad a spot as they have all season.

The Houston Astros, sporting a 101-61 regular season record, enter as third most likely to win the World Series at 9-to-2 odds.

“They have a good team over there”, Indians catcher Roberto Perez said October 4 in the Tribe clubhouse.

“For whatever reason, it took us a while to get – whether it’s your rhythm, whether it’s your footing”, Indians manager Terry Francona said. Like I’d give up a home run, but there would be two, three guys on so it would be a lot of runs. Their depth, especially on the mound, and home field advantage will be too much for this year’s Yankees to overcome. Yankees scored 858 runs, an increase of 178 from a year ago and second in the majors behind Houston (896). He gave up three runs in five innings but was no match for Justin Verlander, who allowed two hits and struck out 10 in eight innings of a 3-0 victory. The Indians will have AL home field through the ALCS. There is the best team in baseball, the Indians. The Yankees were fifth at 3.72.

As a result, the Indians are brimming with confidence and should they eliminate the Yankees will face either the AL East champion Boston Red Sox or a Houston Astros team that won the AL West by a 21-game margin.

“This is completely different”, Indians center fielder Jason Kipnis said. The Yankees have a very good team in their own right and the people who are counting them out may look foolish. Led by Gary Sanchez and Rookie of the Year shoe-in and possible MVP candidate Aaron Judge, they will certainly test Cleveland’s staff. We’ve done it this year and we’d like to do the same. Young right-hander Luis Severino – the team’s ace for all intents and purposes – only lasted five innings that day. But if it doesn’t happen this year, the Cubs will have other opportunities soon.

Indians pushed Chicago to 10 innings in Game 7 of the World Series last year before losing to the Cubs, who ended their 108-year wait. In the 22 seasons of the wild card era, the team with the best record in baseball has won the World Series four times.

“I was about to say it’s incredible”, James said, “But I want to come back and do another video when you all got like a 40-game winning streak”.

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My Sox bias may be clouding my judgment, but with Sale being able to pitch twice, the bullpen seems to have picked it up late and the ability of that lineup to produce enough run support, I’m picking the Red Sox in four games. That’s what we were missing. I believe that if the Sox play at full potential they can pull it off.

Upsets aside, World Series should have an ex-Tiger or two involved