After a scoreless first five innings, the Rays made their way onto the board with the first run of the game, taking the lead in the sixth.
But that lead didn’t last.
José Ramírez landed a two-run homerun later in the sixth, helping the Guardians win 2-1 in Game 1, also ending the team’s eight-game postseason losing streak.
Starting pitcher Shane Bieber, rocked in his only other playoff appearance two years ago, allowed only three hits and struck out eight before being lifted with a runner on in the eighth.
Emmanuel Clase then took over, getting four outs for his first postseason save and finishing a game that took only 2 hours and 17 minutes.
Game 2 will kick off from Progressive Field at noon on Saturday. Game 2 has officially sold out, but you can check out ticket information here.
It’s the first time the Guardians are back in the postseason since 2020.
The Guardians won the regular season match-up between the two teams 4-2, including beating Tampa in two out of three games just over a week and a half ago.
The biggest difference between the two teams is the Rays have playoff experience; four straight years, including a World Series trip. The Guardians are in the postseason party with a lot of new faces.
This is unfamiliar territory for many of Cleveland’s players, most of whom were in the minor leagues during the strange 2020 season when the team, then known as the Indians, was eliminated in the first round by the New York Yankees.
“It seems that nothing has been too big or too small for us this year,” said starting pitcher Shane Bieber. “I really don’t expect too much of a change within the clubhouse or on the field.”
Team members said Thursday they couldn’t wait for the experience.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.