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Rays or Guardians? Yankees React to 'Tough' Possible Matchups For ALDS

New York will face the winner of the Wild Card series between the Guardians and Rays.

In six days, the Yankees will take the field at Yankee Stadium in front of a raucous crowd, donning pinstripes in the Bronx during a postseason game for the first time since 2019.

Everything is set for that special moment, except who they'll be facing. 

The Yankees secured the No. 2 seed in the American League postseason bracket this season, winning 99 games while clinching their division. That means they'll take on the winner of the Wild Card series between the Cleveland Guardians and Tampa Bay Rays. 

Cleveland won the American League Central this year, a club that shattered expectations and pulled away in a division with several contenders that turned into pretenders.

Tampa Bay is a familiar face, a club that entered this season riding back-to-back division titles. In 2022, the Rays finished in third in the AL East, securing the final Wild Card spot in the American League (behind the drought-crushing Seattle Mariners and star-powered Toronto Blue Jays). 

After wrapping up their final game of the regular season on Wednesday in Texas, losing to the Rangers, a few Yankees were asked about that series between the Rays and Guardians.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo explained that he'll keep an eye on their best-of-three series over the next several days, even as the Yankees go through a slate of workouts as they prepare for the American League Division Series. Outfielder (and American League home run champ) Aaron Judge added that both are good teams, two clubs that will make for a "tough" division series, no matter who advances.

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"Cleveland is very young, has exceeded expectations and Tampa has been there and been tested. So that'll be a fun series to watch," Rizzo told reporters. 

During the regular season, the Yankees went 11-8 against the Rays and 5-1 against Cleveland. In those six games against the Guardians, New York outscored their opponent 38-14. New York outscored their division rivals this year as well, but it was much more evenly matched (67 runs, 61 runs allowed).

As much as the Yankees want to get going and kickstart what could be a World Series run, they'll need to be patient. The Wild Card round begins on Friday. New York will find out who they're playing over the weekend and then will begin the ALDS on Tuesday, October 11. 

"Everybody is really excited," Judge said. "Once we clinched the division in Toronto, we started looking ahead at what's to come. It's an exciting time of the year and this is what we're looking forward to. Like I said in Toronto, we were able to get that first step out of the way, clinching the division, and now it's time for guys to rest up, hopefully get some guys back from the IL. This is the fun part of the year. So I think this is gonna be a fun group of guys to go to battle with here down the stretch."

Both the Rays and Guardians present a set of challenges for New York and we'll be sure to break it all down right here at Inside The Pinstripes as Game 1 of the ALDS approaches...


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