Hot Yankees host Indians in ALDS rematch

NEW YORK — Nearly seven months ago, the New York Yankees were celebrating beating the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the American League Division Series.

This time the stakes will not be nearly as high and the winner will be merely shaking hands on the field following the final out.

The Indians and Yankees get together for the first time since that postseason series, starting a three-game set Friday night at Yankee Stadium.

The teams will be meeting for the first time since Oct. 11, when Didi Gregorius hit a pair of homers off Corey Kluber and Aroldis Chapman struck out four in two scoreless innings to secure a 5-2 victory.

To get to Game 5, the Yankees needed to win twice at home and they won a pair of elimination games at Yankee Stadium before celebrating in Cleveland.

Since then, New York added Giancarlo Stanton in a trade from the Miami Marlins. While Stanton is off to an inconsistent start, the Yankees are rolling.

New York won six of seven on a road trip against the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros. New York also has won 12 of its last 13 games in the last two weeks since it was 9-9 following an 8-5 home loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

During the last 13 games, the Yankees have outscored opponents 79-25. They are batting .251 (109-for-435) overall, .314 (33-for-105) with runners in scoring position while posting a 1.69 ERA.

The latest win was a 6-5 victory Thursday afternoon at Houston. After blowing a three-run lead in the seventh, the Yankees improved to 21-10 with a 6-5 victory.

Rookie Gleyber Torres drove in the tying run with a base hit and Aaron Judge delivered the tiebreaking run. New York then clinched its latest victory when Chapman fanned Jose Altuve with two on.

“Our whole road trip, going to Anaheim and getting three wins on a team that’s one of the best in the game right now and then to come here in Houston and battle back after a tough first loss against them, that just kind of shows what kind of team we are,” Judge said.

Cleveland went 4-6 on a 10-game homestand against the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays. The Indians have scored 36 runs in their last three games after splitting a doubleheader with the Toronto on Thursday.

Edwin Encarnacion followed up his three-homer showing Wednesday against Texas by going 3-for-5 with three RBIs in a 13-11, 11-inning loss in the opener. He did not play when Jose Ramirez homered drove in three runs in a 13-4 win in the nightcap.

Encarnacion, who was injured in Game 2 of last year’s ALDS, is batting .209 overall but has three straight multi-hit games after batting .533 (8-for-15) with three homers and nine RBIs in those contests.

“We’ve all seen how hot he can get where he can kind of put you on his shoulders a little bit,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “We’re a different team when he swings the bat like that.”

New York’s CC Sabathia, who started Game 5, can become the 58th pitcher to reach 240 career victories. Since Aug. 19, he is 7-0 with a 2.48 ERA in his last 13 starts, matching the second-longest unbeaten streak of his career and five shy of his career high set June 10-Sept. 19, 2008, with Cleveland and the Milwaukee Brewers.

Sabathia last pitched Sunday in a 2-1 win over the Angels when he allowed one run and five hits in a season-high seven innings. It lowered his ERA to 1.71 — the lowest ERA through five starts in any season for the left-hander.

“Everything was working for him,” Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez said of Sabathia. “All of his pitches were sharp … the slider, the cutter. The changeup got better as the game went on. He was very good.”

Sabathia is 4-3 with a 3.65 ERA in 11 career regular-season starts against Cleveland. He also started twice against the Indians in the ALDS.

Josh Tomlin will attempt to get his first win of the season and is coming off a rough outing Sunday against the Seattle Mariners. In a 10-4 loss, he allowed six runs and 10 hits in a season-high six innings during a game where he retired 12 of 14 in between homers to Robinson Cano and Ryon Healy.

“A guy like myself that doesn’t have overpowering stuff,” he said. “You miss too many times over the middle of the plate, or on the outer third of the plate to a guy that can get extended, it just doesn’t bode well.”

Tomlin is 3-3 with a 5.79 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts) against the Yankees. He did not face New York in the regular season in 2017 but was the winning pitcher in Game 2 and made a relief appearance in Game 4.

Tomlin’s last start against the Yankees occurred in a 13-7 loss in New York on Aug. 5, 2016, when he allowed seven runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Cleveland won five of seven regular-season meetings last season. In their three-game sweep in New York from Aug. 28-30, the Indians outscored the Yankees 17-7.