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Red Sox-Yankees rivalry leads off 2021 MLB playoffs

Red Sox-Yankees rivalry leads off 2021 MLB playoffs
New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk-off infield single in the ninth inning against the the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday at Yankee Stadium in New York. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Fenway Park serves as the site for the start of the 2021 MLB postseason, with the Boston Red Sox hosting the New York Yankees on Tuesday. The 10-team playoff field will continue play through late October.

The Red Sox will play their rivals in the American League Wild Card Game at 8:08 p.m. EDT on ESPN. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole will face Nathan Eovaldi, both right-hand pitchers, in the elimination game.

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"I know it took us a while to get going, but we got a spot in the playoffs," Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge told reporters Sunday. "All you have to do is get in."

The defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers will host the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday on TBS. Dodgers right-handed ace Max Scherzer is expected to face Cardinals right-handed veteran Adam Wainwright in that pitching matchup.

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"It's not the path we planned out, but now our focus just turns to winning a ballgame on Wednesday," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters Sunday.

The winner of each elimination game will advance to battle the top respective seeds from the American League and National League in the ALDS and NLDS.

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ALDS, NLDS, ALCS and NLCS games air on MLB Network, FS1 and TBS. The 2021 World Series starts Oct. 26 and will air on Fox. THe ALDS and NLDS are each best-of-five game series. The ALCS, NLCS and World Series are best-of-seven game series.

Unlike last year, when COVID-19 limited attendance in the playoffs, each stadium will allow full capacities.

The Dodgers are favorites to repeat as World Series champions, despite their second-place finish in the National League West. The San Francisco Giants, who won the division and posted a league-high 107 wins, have the second-best odds to win the championship.

The Tampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers are among the other top contenders.

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The Astros led MLB with a .267 team batting average in 2021. The Red Sox ranked second in the American League with a .261 average.

The Giants hit .249 in the regular season, which tied for second in the National League, but is the highest mark among National League teams in the playoffs. The Giants also led the National League with 241 home runs and led baseball with a 2.99 bullpen ERA.

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The Dodgers led the National League with 830 runs scored and posted an MLB-best 3.01 ERA as a pitching staff. The Astros led baseball with 863 runs and a .339 on-base percentage.

The Rays led the American League with a 3.67 team ERA and 3.24 bullpen ERA.

The Astros and the Braves each roster two players who hit .300 or better this season. The Dodgers and Red Sox regular-season lineups each featured six players who hit at least 20 home runs.

Injuries to several star players could make it difficult for some of that success to carry into the postseason and most likely will make a significant impact teams' title hopes.

The Dodgers placed three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw on the 10-day injured list Saturday with left forearm discomfort. Manager Dave Roberts told reporters Sunday that he doesn't think Kershaw will return for the postseason.

Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy injured his wrist during a collision in a win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday in Los Angeles. Roberts said it is "very unlikely" for Muncy to play in the National League Wild Card Game. His status also is in doubt if the Dodgers advance to the NLDS.

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Muncy hit .249 with a team-high 36 home runs and 94 RBIs in the regular season.

Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez sustained a left ankle sprain in his team's season finale against the Washington Nationals on Sunday in Washington, D.C. Martinez hit .286 with 28 home runs and 99 RBIs in 92 regular season games.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters Sunday that he was unsure if Martinez would be ready for the American League Wild Card Game.

The Yankees will be without two-time batting champion D.J. LeMahieu for the rivalry matchup. He landed on the 10-day injured list Sunday due to a sports hernia.

The Brewers are expected to be without relief pitcher Devin Williams this postseason. The 2020 National League Rookie of the Year fractured his hand when he punched a wall the night the Brewers clinched the National League Central title.

MLB postseason schedule

Tuesday

AL Wild Card: Yankees at Red Sox at 8:08 p.m. EDT on ESPN

Wednesday

NL Wild Card: Cardinals at Dodgers at 8:10 p.m. EDT on TBS

Thursday

ALDS Game 1: Yankees or Red Sox at Rays at TBA on MLB Network/FS1

ALDS Game 1: White Sox at Astros at TBD on MLB Network/FS1

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Friday

NLDS Game 1: Braves at Brewers at TBD on TBS

ALDS Game 2: Yankees or Red Sox at Rays at TBD on MLB Network/FS1

NLDS Game 1: Cardinals or Dodgers at Giants at TBD on TBS

ALDS Game 2: White Sox at Astros at TBD on MLB Network/FS1

Saturday

NLDS Game 2: Braves at Brewers at TBD on TBS

NLDS Game 2: Cardinals or Dodgers at Giants at TBD on TBS

Sunday

ALDS Game 3: Rays at Yankees or Red Sox at TBD on MLB Network/FS1

ALDS Game 3: Astros at White Sox at TBD on MLB Network/FS1

Monday

NLDS Game 3: Brewers at Braves at TBD on TBS

NLDS Game 3: Giants at Cardinals or Dodgers at TBD on TBS

ALDS Game 4 (if necessary): Astros at White Sox at TBD on FS1

ALDS Game 4 (if necessary): Rays at Red Sox or Yankees at TBD on FS1

Oct. 12

NLDS Game 4 (if necessary): Brewers at Braves at TBD on TBS

NLDS: Game 4 (if necessary): Giants at Cardinals or Dodgers at TBD on TBS

Oct. 13

ALDS Game 5 (if necessary): White Sox at Astros at TBD on FS1

ALDS Game 5 (if necessary): Red Sox or Yankees at Rays at TBD on FS1

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Oct. 14

NLDS Game 5 (if necessary): Braves at Brewers at TBD on TBS

NLDS Game 5 (if necessary): Cardinals or Dodgers at Giants at TBD on TBS

Oct. 15

ALCS Game 1 at TBD on Fox

Oct. 16

ALCS Game 2 at TBD on Fox/FS1

NLCS Game 1 at TBD on TBS

Oct. 17

NLCS Game 2 at TBD on TBS

Oct. 18

ALCS Game 3 at TBD on FS1

Oct. 19

NLCS Game 3 at TBD on TBS

ALCS Game 4 at TBD on FS1

Oct. 20

ALCS Game 5 (if necessary) at TBD on FS1

NLCS Game 4 at TBD on TBS

Oct. 21

NLCS Game 5 (if necessary) at TBD on TBS

Oct. 22

ALCS Game 6 (if necessary) at TBD on FS1

Oct. 23

ALCS Game 7 (if necessary) at TBD on Fox/FS1

NLCS Game 6 (if necessary) at TBD on TBS

Oct. 24

NLCS Game 7 (if necessary) at TBD on TBS

Oct. 26

World Series Game 1 at TBD on Fox

Oct. 27

World Series Game 2 at TBD on Fox

Oct. 29

World Series Game 3 at TBD on Fox

Oct. 30

World Series Game 4 at TBD on Fox

Oct. 31

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World Series Game 5 (if necessary) at TBD on Fox

Nov. 2

World Series Game 6 (if necessary) at TBD on Fox

Nov. 3

World Series Game 7 (if necessary) at TBD on Fox

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