Gerrit Cole Credit: Wikipedia (All-Pro Reels)

When the Yankees take the field tonight at home for Game 2 of their best-of-five American League Division Series against the Cleveland Guardians, they will be one step closer to their ultimate goal of winning the franchise’s 28th World Series title after winning Game 1 by 4-1 on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium. Their 27 world championships are the most of any American professional sports franchise but the last came in 2009 when they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 led by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in MLB history.

The Yankees hope this year’s pitching staff can have a similar impact as their 2009 staff. Gerrit Cole, the team’s No. 1 starter, who was 13-8 during the regular season and led MLB in strikeouts with 257, setting a new franchise single season record, breaking Ron Guidry’s record of 249 achieved in 1978, had a strong beginning to the playoffs. He pitched into the seventh inning, going 6 1/3 giving up four hits, one earned run and striking out eight in front of 47,000 plus fans. 

“Sometimes when you feel the crowd or the energy, it sometimes can become a little easier just to quiet things down because it’s so loud,” said Cole. “I don’t know if that makes sense, but it does to me.”

Outfielder Harrison Bader hit a solo homer in the third and first baseman Anthony Rizzo a two-run shot in the sixth with Aaron Judge on third base. Judge, whose 62 home runs in the regular season set the AL and Yankees record, went 0-3 with three strikeouts. 

Before facing the Yanks, Cleveland, the AL Central champs at 92-70, who haven’t won a World Series in 74 years, defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in a wild card matchup. The Yankees, who led the American League East division with a record of 99-63 and received a first round bye after playing the final regular season game on October 5. The Yanks and Guardians played six times in the first half of the season with the Yankees taking five.

Nestor Cortes (12-4) will start for the Yankees tonight and Luis Severino, who pitched seven innings of no-hit ball in his last start on Oct. 3 in a 3-1 Yankees win over the Texas Rangers, is scheduled to go in Game 3 in Cleveland on Saturday. Game 4, if necessary, will also be in Cleveland on Sunday with a potential Game 5 back in the Bronx on Monday.

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