The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays open their best-of-five American League Division Series on Monday night at San Diego's Petco Park. The two AL East rivals are meeting for the first time ever in the playoffs. The Yankees swept Cleveland in the Wild Card Series last week to advance. The Rays swept the Blue Jays. Now a trip to the ALCS is on the line.
Let's set the scene for Game 1 with the essentials.
How to watch
Date: Monday, Oct. 5 | Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
Location: Petco Park (San Diego, California)
TV: TBS | Stream: TBS app
Odds: NYY -140; TB +130; O/U: 7
Pitchers: Gerrit Cole vs. Blake Snell
Follow: CBS Sports App
There is certainly no love lost in this series., with their regular season meetings featuring numerous benches-clearing incidents (and subsequent suspensions) in recent years. I'm not sure that will carry over into the postseason -- the stakes are too high in October to start drilling people, right? -- but I can't say it won't carry over either.
The Rays dominated the regular season series with New York. They won eight of 10 games and outscored them 47-34, though the Yankees did not have Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge for most of those games. The towering duo is healthy now and they combined to hit three home runs against Cleveland's great pitching staff in the Wild Card Series sweep.
As always, the Rays will look to smother their opponent with velocity and high spin breaking balls while getting contributions up and down the lineup offensively. When the Rays win, it takes a village. The Yankees are able to rely on star players to have that one impact moment in a game. Both approaches work give how successful these two teams have been the last few seasons.
Despite the regular season series, I'm going with the Yankees in Game 1. Cole has been on another level the last six weeks or so, and New York's offense was locked in against Cleveland. Right now, they're as dangerous as they've looked at any point in 2020. Give me the Yankees and Cole in a close Game 1, with Gio Urshela getting The Big Hit.