Sabathia to face former team with ALCS berth at stake

CLEVELAND — The final chapter of the drama is about to be written.

Wednesday night at Progressive Field, the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians will play a winner-take-all Game 5 in the best-of-five American League Division Series that is tied 2-2.

The home team has won all four games so far. The Indians took the first two games in Cleveland, then the series shifted to New York, where the Yankees won Games 3 and 4.

“We did the only thing that we could do,” Yankees designated hitter Chase Headley said. “We came home down 0-2, and we’re going back there 2-2. That’s the best thing we could possibly do, and we feel good about that.”

The Indians, who lost at home to the Chicago Cubs in 10 innings in Game 7 of last year’s World Series, will try to avoid a similar disappointment Wednesday night.

“At this point, to be honest, we really don’t have a choice,” Indians outfielder Jay Bruce said. “After Game 5, there is no tomorrow when it comes to the series. We’re going to come out ready to play. What’s done is done.”

The Houston Astros await the New York-Cleveland winner in the American League Championship Series.

The Wednesday pitching matchup will be a Game 2 rematch of former Cy Young Award winners: the Yankees’ CC Sabathia vs. the Indians’ Corey Kluber.

In Game 2, Sabathia was effective while Kluber had his worst start of the year. Sabathia pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs.

Kluber, the AL Cy Young Award favorite, only pitched 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and six earned runs.

Even though the Indians eventually won Game 2 by a 9-8 score in 13 innings, Cleveland will need Kluber to pitch like an ace Wednesday as it bids to advance to the ALCS.

Asked what he needs to correct from his Game 2 performance, Kluber said, “Everything. I didn’t pitch well, didn’t have good command, didn’t throw the ball where I wanted to.”

Indians manager Terry Francona specifically set up his ALDS rotation to have Kluber available to pitch in a potential Game 5 on his normal four days’ rest. That was why Kluber started Game 2 instead of Game 1.

“We wanted Kluber if we got to this game, and we got to this game,” Francona said.

Francona said he held a team meeting after the Indians made four errors, resulting in six unearned runs, in an ugly 7-3 loss in Game 3.

“It wasn’t fire and brimstone. It wasn’t yelling,” Francona said. “It was just, hey, remind them of who we are and that we can figure things out together. We’re playing a good team, and we respect that. But our challenge is to play the best game we can, and I think we will.”

The Yankees come into the game with lots of momentum, having won the last two games.

“Momentum a lot of times depends on your starting pitching,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “CC, I thought, threw a pretty good game here the last time. And CC’s used to these big moments, so we feel good about him on the mound.”

Sabathia spent the first 7 1/2 years of his career with the Indians.

“I’ve pitched here a lot, so I’m very familiar with the city,” he said. “A lot of who I am as an adult male, Cleveland kind of shaped that. Three of my kids were born here. I have a lot of history in the city. So it will be a lot of fun to take the ball in Game 5 and hopefully get a win.”

The Indians hope to have designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion back in the lineup for Game 5. Encarnacion, who had 38 home runs and 107 RBIs in the regular season, missed the past two games with a sprained ankle.