CLEVELAND — We now know just when the Indians and New York Yankees will face off in the first ever (and perhaps only?) American League Wild Card Series, and it's sure to make for at least one very interesting night in Cleveland.
We already knew the two teams would play Tuesday, Wednesday, and (if necessary) Thursday at Progressive Field in a best-of-three showdown, but Major League Baseball finally released the first pitch times Sunday night: Games 1 and 2 will both start at 7 p.m., while if a Game 3 is needed it will take place at a to-be-determined time.
The first game time is particularly noteworthy, as just east of the stadium President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will meet at the Cleveland Clinic's Samson Pavilion for the first of three presidential debates. The event starts at 9 p.m., right when Game 1 is expected to be reaching its climax.
Both Games 1 and 2 will be broadcast live on ESPN, as well as on the Indians Radio Network. If there's a Game 3, it will air on one of the Disney-owned networks (ESPN/ESPN2/ABC).
The Tribe and Yanks also announced which pitchers will start in the series. They are as follows, with Cleveland pitchers listed first (* indicates "if necessary"):
- Game 1: Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84)
- Game 2: Carlos Carrasco (3-4, 2.91) vs. Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.56)
- *Game 3: Zach Plesac (4-2, 2.28) vs. TBD
The Indians enter the postseason as the AL's fourth seed after finishing second in the Central division. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and shortened 60-game season, MLB and the players' union decided to expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16, and the higher seeds in each league (Nos. 1-4) will host all games in the Wild Card round at their home stadiums. However, fans will still not be allowed to attend, and once the division series begins next Monday all participants will continue playing at designated neutral "bubble" sites in either Texas or California.
Clinging to the No. 7 spot just this week, the Indians rallied to win nine of their last 10 to claim a home round, capped off by a comeback win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday followed by a Chicago White Sox loss to the crosstown rival Cubs that forced them down to the seventh spot. Both Cleveland and Chicago finished the regular season with identical 35-25 records, but the Tribe earned second place by virtue of winning the head-to-head series this year.
This will be the fifth time the Indians and Yankees have met in the postseason, splitting the first four matchups. The Bronx Bombers won the most recent showdown in 2017, coming back from two games down in the ALDS to stun the Tribe in five games.
3News will have full coverage of the Wild Card Series both on our newscasts and on WKYC.com.