LEADING OFF: Playoffs begin, Bieber vs Cole in prime matchup

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Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber throws against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

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MARQUEE MATCHUP

Shane Bieber dominated this year for Cleveland, leading the American League in wins (8), ERA (1.63) and strikeouts (122). He didn’t allow a run in six of his 12 starts.

Gerrit Cole delivered for the Yankees in his first season since signing a $324 million, nine-year contract, going 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA.

Now they meet in the playoff opener at Progressive Field, a classic pitching duel in the making on the first day of the postseason.

“We’re fired up,” Bieber said. “We think this is a good matchup.”

For all Bieber and Cole have accomplished in the shortened regular season, it will mean little if they don’t perform well to start the best-of-three series.

HEALING HANDS