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New York Yankees vs. Cleveland: Corey Kluber vs. Zach Plesac

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Once again, the Yankees are in desperate need of a good performance.

MLB: New York Yankees at New York Mets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Following last night’s brutal loss against the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees will try to bounce back quickly in the Friday night opener of a three-game set against Cleveland. Corey Kluber will face the team with which he won two Cy Young Awards. In his last game against the New York Mets, he only threw four innings and allowed four earned runs, though he did strike out six. Greater length from him would be a huge boon to the team.

On offense, the Yankees’ lineup will look familiar, but with Giancarlo Stanton at DH, Rizzo at first base, and Kyle Higashioka catching after Gary Sánchez’s miscue cost them last night’s game. Kluber has talked before about enjoying throwing to Higashioka, so that could also have played into the decision, in addition to the fact that tomorrow is a day game.

Kluber matches up against right-hander Zach Plesac, who has a 4.45 ERA in 22 starts for Cleveland. He missed all of the month of June with a fractured thumb and hasn’t looked quite as sharp

After years of AL Central excellence — including four playoff appearances in the past five seasons — Cleveland can only hope to play spoiler at this point. They have a sub-.500 record and it’s a near-mathematical certainty that the Chicago White Sox will win the division (their magic number is seven). Once again, the Yankees are playing a team they really should sweep, but “should win” has proven to be a difficult concept for the team lately.

A good performance by Kluber as he continues to build up following his IL stint would go a long way to helping New York keep pace in the Wild Card race. At the moment, they sit half a game behind both the Blue Jays and Red Sox, and both AL East rivals have even cushier opponents than Cleveland this weekend: Toronto gets the Twins and Boston will have its own opportunity to stomp on the Orioles.

How to watch:

Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY

First pitch: 7:05 pm EDT

TV broadcast: WPIX, Bally Sports Great Lakes

Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280

Online stream: MLB.tv

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