The Cleveland Indians and the Houston Astros drew first blood with respective wins over the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series.
Runner-up in the MLB World Series last season, the Indians – with LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers team-mates watching in the crowd – took down the Yankees 4-0 on Thursday.
In the early going at Progressive Field, it was a duel between the Yankees' big trade deadline acquisition Sonny Gray and the Indians' surprise pick to start the first game, Trevor Bauer.
As the night wore on, Cleveland worked more counts, moved up repeatedly on wild pitches, and were able to stretch their lead against a tired Yankees bullpen.
After the elation of their wildcard win on Tuesday, the Yankees are now in danger of failing to move on in the postseason with AL Cy Young Award candidate Corey Kluber waiting to take the mound for the Indians in game two on Friday.
The Astros jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the ALDS with an 8-2 win over the Red Sox.
In a game that was touted as a battle of aces, it was Jose Altuve and the Astros' offence that stole the show in Houston from Justin Verlander and Chris Sale.
ALTUVE SEES JUDGE'S HOMER AND RAISES HIM TWO
Altuve is one of the two leaders in the AL in the MVP race. He leads MLB in batting average (.346), was second in base hits (204), was fourth in WAR (7.56), sixth in runs scored (112) and ninth in OPS (.957). He sometimes gets overshadowed by Yankees rookie Aaron Judge, but he has been as good as any player in MLB this year.
Altuve went three for four with three solo home runs in the win, becoming the first in MLB history to hit three home runs in the team's opening postseason game.
There is a reason Cleveland's Bauer was the number three overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. He threw 5.3 hitless innings to start things off. He finished with 6.6 scoreless while allowing two hits and striking out eight.
ASTROS JUMP ON SALE EARLY, JUDGE FIZZLES
Astros manager A.J. Hinch had a couple of goals for his team against AL Cy Young Award candidate Sale. One was that he wanted his team to jump on him early and that is exactly what they did.
In the first inning, Alex Bregman got Houston on the board first with a home run to left field. Altuve followed it with a home run of his own to left-centre.
Sale gave up just one first-inning homer this season. He gave up two on Thursday and finished the night at just five-plus innings with seven runs on nine hits, one walk and six strikeouts.
Judge had Yankee Stadium rocking on Tuesday night in the wildcard game, but had the New York faithful shaking their heads on Thursday.
The 25-year-old right fielder went 0 for four with four strikeouts, and looked lost at the plate. He did reach base once, coming on courtesy of a wild pitch from Bauer on a strikeout.
BRUCE JUSTIFYING TRADE, GRAY NOT SO MUCH
The Indians acquired Jay Bruce from the New York Mets in August for virtually nothing. The Yankees had to give up three of their top 10 prospects for Gray. On Thursday, it looked like the Indians got a better deal while the Yankees were fleeced by the Oakland Athletics.
Bruce went two for three on the night with a home run, double, sacrifice fly and three RBIs. His two-run home run in the fourth inning made Cleveland's lead look astronomical with Bauer dominating on the hill.
In the meantime, Gray lasted just 3.3 innings, gave up three hits, three runs and four walks while striking out two. Since coming over to New York, Gray went 4-7 during the regular season and is now 0-1 in postseason play.
ASTROS DUO COMBINE
Bregman and Altuve hit back-to-back home runs in the playoffs for just the second time in Astros history.
Some were surprised when Jason Kipnis got the start in centre field for the Indians. Any doubt they had about his ability to play the position went out the window in the third inning.
RED SOX, YANKEES LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK
It is a battle of the lefties on Friday as 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90 ERA) takes on Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz (17-6, 3.32 ERA). Houston have had trouble with Pomeranz this year as the 28-year-old has gone 2-0 with a 1.48 ERA against them this season. He has allowed just two runs and seven hits in 12 1/3 innings.
The Indians will now play their ace-in-the-hole in Kluber (18-4, 2.20 ERA). Terry Francona decided to pitch him in game two and the Yankees will now try to get to a pitcher they have had a lot of trouble with so far this season. Kluber is 2-0 with a 1.58 ERA in 17 innings against New York this year. He struck out 18 while walking just two. CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69) will be on the bump for the Yankees.
|WATCH: Smith beats first-quarter buzzer with near full-court shot|
|Harden, D´Antoni hope Rockets regain top form|
|Flyers´ Couturier played with torn MCL|
|Cavs´ Hill out for game four with back spasms|
|Andrew Bogut returns to Australia, signs with Sydney Kings|
|Athletics´ Manaea no-hits Red Sox, Darvish struggles once again|
|Pelicans reach second round, 76ers take 3-1 lead and T-Wolves down Rockets|
|White Sox´s Farquhar in critical condition after brain haemorrhage|
|Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day DL|
|Kaepernick honoured with Amnesty International award|
|Packers QB Aaron Rodgers ventures into ownership, buys stake in NBA´s Bucks|
|Eagles give QB Nick Foles a pay rise after Super Bowl win|
|LeBron James: I won´t throw my team-mates under the bus|
|Padres pitcher Ross´ no-hit bid steals spotlight|
|Cavaliers blow lead as Raptors, Celtics lose|
|White Sox´s Farquhar faints in dugout, taken to hospital|
|Winslow fined $15,000 for stepping on Embiid´s mask|
|Career backup QB Luke McCown retires at 36|
|Texans ´optimistic´ about Clowney contract extension|
|Curry to begin modified practices on Saturday|
|Former NFL lineman Evan Mathis´ 1952 Mickey Mantle card sells for $2.88M|
|WATCH: Dez Bryant works out with Odell Beckham Jr. as rumors swirl|
|Rematches, rivalries and a mouth-watering Wembley clash – The pick of the 2018 NFL schedule|
|Arrieta settling in as Phillies ace after Philadelphia win|
|Warriors, Pelicans claim 3-0 leads as Embiid inspires 76ers|
|Whiteside blames new role under Spoelstra for struggles with Heat|
|NFL schedule: Top 10 games to watch in 2018|
|Trail Blazers´ Turner ruled out of game three|
|Mask-wearing Joel Embiid cleared to face Heat|
|Sixers´ Embiid upgraded to probable for game three against Heat|
|New York Giants release Brandon Marshall|
|Porzingis could miss 2018-19 season, Knicks owner says|
|Spurs coach Popovich to miss game three after death of wife|
|Love will be ready for game three, assures Cavs coach Lue|
|LeBron James denies he was blindsided by question on Popovich´s wife|
|Grand slams, walk-off hits highlight Blue Jays and Red Sox wins|
|Chiefs, Rams to play in Mexico City on November 19|
|LeBron James helps Cavs even series, Rockets rout T-Wolves|
|Wife of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich dies|
|Jazz star Mitchell to play game two against Thunder|
|Twins place Byron Buxton on 10-day DL with migraines|
|Gronkowski purchases stake in Kentucky Derby horse named after him|
|LeBron wishes Cavaliers were better prepared for postseason|
|Sixers´ Joel Embiid doubtful for game three against Miami|
|Lindor sends native Puerto Rico into frenzy with HR|
|Golden Knights become first expansion team to sweep series|
|Raptors, Celtics easily secure game-two wins|
|Mavericks, 76ers to play pre-season games in China|
|Hopkins thinks partnership with Watson can be elite|
|Jazz´s Mitchell questionable for game two against Thunder|
|Flyers´ Couturier goes down at practice after ugly collision|
|Wild´s Parise week to week with fractured sternum|
|Brewers´ Yelich, Cubs´ Rizzo activated from DL|
|Wentz still hoping for week one return|
|Flames clean house by firing coach Gulutzan, assistants|
|Kobe Bryant picks James Harden to win 2018 NBA MVP|
|Buccaneers pick up Winston´s fifth-year option|
|I´m tired of being babied! - Frustrated Sixers star Embiid itching to make playoffs impact|
|Wade helps Heat even series, Warriors take 2-0 lead over Spurs|
|Reds end losing streak with scoring outburst against Brewers|
|Blue Jays-Royals cancelled by roof damage from falling ice|
|Former Steelers standout Harrison retires|
|Foster will not participate in 49ers team activities|
|LeBron staying ´even-keeled´ despite end of first-round streak|
|Phillies, Pirates continue early-season surprise|
|Pacers steal game one from Cavs, Harden leads Rockets|
|Colon loses perfect game in eighth inning|
|Capitals´ Burakovsky hurt, linesman suffers knee injury|
|Celtics boosted with Marcus Smart eyeing playoff return|
|Sixers star Joel Embiid out of Game 2 against Heat|