No debate: Judge, Yankees pound Bieber, Indians in opener

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New York Yankees' Aaron Judge (99) is congratulated by Aaron Hicks after hitting a two-run home run off Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber (57) in the first inning of Game 1 of an American League wild-card baseball series, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

CLEVELAND – On a night for debates, Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees made quite an opening statement.

Shane Bieber had no rebuttal.

Judge smashed a tone-setting, two-run homer on Bieber's fourth pitch, Cole struck out 13 in his New York playoff debut and the Yankees opened their AL wild-card series with a resounding 12-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.

Just a few miles from where President Donald Trump and campaign opponent Joe Biden made their cases to the nation in their presidential debate, the Yankees teed off against Bieber, who was baseball's best pitcher during the condensed regular season but ineffective in his playoff debut.

Judge and the rest of New York’s hitters hadn't faced Bieber in 2020, but they were well prepared and took some meaty cuts against the 25-year-old ace, who gave up season highs in runs (seven) and hits (nine) over 4 2/3 innings — his shortest stint since June 9 last season against the Yankees.

“The first inning didn’t go as planned,” Bieber said. "I wish I would have been with my off-speed stuff in the zone, and challenged those guys a little more. I forced myself into some bad situations and some bad counts on top of not having my best stuff and making mistakes.

“No excuses. It was not good.”

The best-of-three series continues Wednesday night with Carlos Carrasco trying to save Cleveland’s season against Masahiro Tanaka.