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Except none of that matters now — a sinker that bounces to the backstop, a liner that hooks barely foul, the whole script flips.

The New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians square off in game one of the American League Division Series from Progressive Field on Thursday night. It could be the year for the Astros to win their first-ever World Series title. With the Houston area recovering from Hurricane Harvey, they're the sentimental favorites. We've done it this year and we'd like to do the same. In the World Series, Wild Card teams are 6-6. The Yankees battled back with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first by Didi Gregorius and took control in the middle innings. So is Nationals backup Adam Lind, after 12 years and more than 1,300 games. The Yankees will be in Cleveland at 7:30 p.m. on FS1. But their fans can always dream. The Nationals, whom the Cubs will face in the NLDS, are listed at 7.5-1. Thankfully, it's no longer based on who wins the All-Star Game. We saw what they can do against the Twins, not letting an early lead by Minnesota get to them. Instead, I believe the Washington Nationals will defeat the Dodgers in the ALCS and march onto the World Series.

J: JOE MADDON — A cool cat, he keeps his Cubs loose. The skipper became the toast of Chicago, ending that century-old drought.

"It's time to get to work", Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin said.

The Indians led all of baseball with a 3.30 ERA. He's a three-time Cy Young Award victor and seven-time All-Star.

The Dodgers will depend on Clayton Kershaw to dominate on the mound. Probably not, because the LA lefty is 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in the postseason. "That means everybody went through what happened a year ago". If you want clear conditions, root for Arizona vs. Houston and their retractable roofs. The Diamondbacks have to first get by the Colorado Rockies (+2800). But even as the series stretch out to five games or seven games, the odds don't stretch out any more favorably for the favored teams.

This still is the Indians' series to lose, and the Yankees can't expect a barrage of home runs from Judge and co.

O: OCTOBER — Of course. Yes, having likely Cy Young victor Corey Kluber potentially start two games is a huge boost. "So good for them". That's where the winning streak came from.

Catching L.A. for the best record in baseball seemed like an impossibility as recently as late August, but the Cleveland Indians nearly made it happen by going on a 22-game winning streak. NY fell into a 3-0 deficit as Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA) allowed a pair of home runs in a three-run first inning as he only lasted one-third of an inning. Yu Darvish, David Robertson and Eduardo Nunez also gave their new teams a boost. The Indians were baseball's hottest team in the second half of the season and have the best manager in the sport in Terry Francona running the show. Others, not so much (the Nationals were right only 36 percent). Corey Kluber is a Cy Young Award candidate and Francisco Lindor is an MVP candidate as well. Altuve or Judge, Kluber or Sale?

All four wild-card teams have worse than 10/1 odds. Think Javier Baez, Daniel Murphy, Ben Zobrist and Alcides Escobar in recent years. The Yankees pulled starter Luis Severino from the game, just recording one out. The two wild card spots belong to the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.


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