Your guide to Wednesday’s LDS games: Indians, Nationals asking who’s available for elimination games
Happy Wednesday! We get a Game 5 that is one of the juiciest Division Series games we’ve ever had, with the Yankees of all teams playing underdog versus the mighty Indians. As a bonus, we also get Game 4 between the Nationals and Cubs and — surprise! — will see Stephen Strasburg on the mound at Wrigley Field.
The most important thing of the day: Will Edwin Encarnacion start for the Indians? He spoke with ESPN’s Marly Rivera after Tuesday’s workout and said he expects to be in the lineup. “I feel very good. I ran, I hit and did everything we deemed necessary to evaluate if I can play [Wednesday],” he said. “Me being in the lineup [Wednesday] is what we all want; it’s what I want. … Us Latinos, Dominicans — we leave our body and soul on the field during the game … so let’s go!” The Indians have hit .173 in the first four games, so getting Encarnacion back as a threat in the middle of the lineup will certainly be a big lift.
Not to be outdone, the Nationals made a decision that has everyone talking hours before Game 4, summoning Stephen Strasburg to start NLDS Game 4 over previously scheduled Tanner Roark — a change in direction from what manager Dusty Baker said after Tuesday’s game was postponed. How will Strasburg fare in the must-win game?
If you’re only going to watch one game, tune in for: Yankees at Indians. Back in 2009, CC Sabathia had just signed a huge contract as a free agent with the Yankees. He was 28 years old, won 19 games and was at the peak of his powers. He started five games that postseason, including two on three days of rest, and posted a 1.98 ERA. The Yankees won the World Series. Did you think that eight years later Sabathia would be starting a do-or-die game for the Yankees? Especially after winning just 18 games over the previous three seasons? Yet here he is, making his 15th postseason start in pinstripes.
ALDS Game 5: Yankees at Indians (Series tied 2-2)
CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69) vs. Corey Kluber (18-4, 2.25), 8:08 ET (FS1)
The stakes: The Indians won 102 games. They had — by far — the largest run differential in the majors. They had that 22-game winning streak and finished the season on a 33-4 run. They haven’t lost three games in a row since Aug. 1. Jose Ramirez, the major league leader in extra-base hits, is 2-for-17 without an extra-base hit or an RBI. Francisco Lindor is 1-for-14, although that one hit was a big one. They have the likely AL Cy Young winner going, but he’s coming off one of the worst starts in his career. They’re at home. Oh, and the franchise hasn’t won a World Series since 1948. I think Indians fans are already throwing up from nervousness.
If the Yankees win: Everyone forgets about manager Joe Girardi’s Game 2 blunder when he failed to challenge the Lonnie Chisenhall HBP. The Yankees move on to the ALCS where they once again get to embrace their underdog status.
If the Indians win: They move on for their titanic battle against the Astros. It would be the first LCS matchup of 100-win teams in the wild-card era and the first since the Yankees played the Royals…