Pocket Aces: Bieber, Cole square off as Yankees play Indians

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Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND – Shane Bieber's first playoff appearance for Cleveland will come against the team that personifies postseason baseball excellence.

All those pinstripes. The roll call of Hall of Famers. The 27 World Series titles. The history.

Here comes the New York Yankees and all their autumnal aura.

No pressure.

Bieber and the Indians are ready.

“We’re fired up,” said the cool right-hander and lock to win the AL Cy Young Award. “We think this is a good matchup.”

Just a few miles from where Donald Trump and Joe Biden will square off in the first presidential debate on Tuesday night, Bieber and New York's Gerrit Cole meet in a Game 1 marquee meeting of two of the game's best pitchers as this shortened, odd-ball season enters what could be a wild wild-card round.

The 60-game sprint is about to speed up some more as the 16-team bracket will be chopped quickly in half by best-of-three series. There is no margin for error — each pitch, each out, each inning is magnified maybe like never before in the pandemic playoffs.