The Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros are closing in on a heavyweight showdown.
The Indians hold 2-0 lead over the New York Yankees and the Astros are up 2-0 on the Boston Red Sox in the best-of-five American League Division Series. Both teams can finish sweeps on the road Sunday as the Astros play the Red Sox at 2:08 ET and the Indians face the Yankees at 7:38 p.m. in Game 3s.
If the Indians (102-60) and Astros (101-60) advance to the American League Championship Series, it would make the first meeting between 100-win teams in 40 years.
In 1977, the Yankees (100-62) went the distance to beat the Kansas City Royals (102-62) in five games in the ALCS. Major League Baseball increased the LCS to seven games in 1985.
However, the Indians aren’t peeking ahead to a potential with the Astros, a team they beat in five of six games during the regular season.
The Indians can sweep Sunday night when the series shifts to Yankee Stadium with Carlos Carrasco (18-6, 3.29 ERA in regular season) scheduled to pitch against Masahiro Tanaka (13-12, 4.74) in Game 3. Game time is 7:38 p.m. ET.
“We’re not there yet,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
The Indians have carried over the momentum generated by winning 31 of their last 35 regular-season games into the postseason. They won a thriller against the Yankees in Game 2 on Friday night, rallying from a five-run deficit to win 9-8 in 13 innings at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
What made the victory particularly impressive was that designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion left the game at the end of the first inning with a sprained right ankle and ace Kluber was chased after tagged for six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Encarnacion is optimistic he will play again in the postseason and the Indians have All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley to serve as the DH in the interim.
The Indians will also have a motivated Carrasco pitching. He suffered a broken pitching hand late in the regular season last year and missed the Indians’ run to the World Series, where they lost in 10 innings in Game 7 to the Chicago Cubs.
It will be the first postseason appearance of Carrasco’s eight-year career.
“I was with the team last year but I couldn’t pitch and that was tough,” Carrasco said. “I love to pitch and I’m available this year, so I’m very excited.”
A matchup between the Indians and Astros would be exciting, too.