He said, “I am disappointed to see the caliber of this team, because they agree that we did not win the division.” Steinbrenner told The Post via email on Monday that losing 15 out of 20 in a season made it a difficult task. He said, “This is a new beginning at the moment. If we play to the best of our ability, we can beat any team in baseball. I really believe that and I know that players do it as well.” ‘
That belief will be tested on Tuesday night, when the Yankees and Indians play Game 1 of the three-best AL Wild Card Series at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Game 2 and Game 3, if necessary, will also be at the Indians’ ballpark as they are the fourth seed, one notch ahead of a Yankees who were 22-9 at home and 11-18 outside the Bronx.
Game 1 will be a matchup of elite writers Gerrit Cole and Shane Bieber, who are favorites to win the AL Cy Young Award after an 8–1 season with an MLB-best 1.63 ERA in a dozen starts.
And the exact reason Steinbrenner spent $ 324 million over the entire nine years to make Cole a Yankee.
“I believe Cole will give us the kind of strong performance that we signed last year when we signed him. One of many in the coming years, ” Steinbrenner predicted.” A tough series. But I am sure we will prevail. ‘
A clear path to pursue the five-best ALDS would be to win the game. 1. If there is not enough pressure on Cole, his hitter will have to find out Bieber, who led the majors with 122 strikes in 77 ₃ / ings innings. .
“He has been closed since the beginning [of the 60-game season]. We all like a good pitching matchup, ” said Cole, who went 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA in a dozen starts. “I’m excited and it should be a good one.”
While the 25-year-old Bieber will be facing a stronger lineup than the 30-year-old Cole, who challenged the first four batsmen in the Indians’ lineup to be a switch hunt, the Yankees are inconsistent at the plate. Having lost six of their final eight matches, the Yankees lost a dozen runs and two wins in 23 starts.
“To beware of you people. There are obviously some real good talent and some good bats [DJ) LeMahieu,’’ Bieber said of the Yankees’ second baseman, who topped the majors with a .364 batting average. “There is some obvious power in that lineup.’’
That is likely a reference to Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Luke Voit, who led the majors in homers with 22.
However, Judge and Stanton haven’t found the power switch since coming back from the injured list. In his last 10 games, Judge hit .194 (7-for-36) without a homer, two RBIs and a .548 OPS. In nine games, Stanton batted .200 (7-for-35) with a homer, four RBIs and posted a .700 OPS.
While pointing out the hurdles of the 2020 COVID-affected season, Cole understands what a high-end No. 1 starter is expected to do in a short postseason series.
“The object is if you are taking the ball early is to set the tone for the pitching staff and for the team,’’ Cole said. “I have been practicing that this year so I will just try to get better at it.’’
Cole vs. Bieber might be the best pitching matchup of the entire postseason, and the one who performs better could put his team nine innings away from advancing.
Which, in the Yankees’ case, would erase a bit of Steinbrenner’s disappointment over not winning the AL East.