CLEVELAND -- The first day Sonny Gray stepped into the Yankees' clubhouse, he could feel it. The expectation of getting to the postseason with this group and the right-hander being an important part of it.
"My first day in New York, I got that vibe," said Gray, who was tabbed on Wednesday to get the ball for Game 1 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan tonight at Progressive Field. "And now, we're here, and we're ready to go."
But first it will be Gray -- back in the postseason for the first time since 2013 with the A's -- taking center stage and looking to set the tone.
"If you look at some of the outings he's had against them, the raw numbers he's had against them, he's fared as well as any pitcher that we have," Girardi said of Gray, who is 3-3 with a 3.38 ERA over eight starts, including one complete game against the Indians. "When it came down to it -- it was a long conversation. We could have went another way, but it's just what we chose to do."
Gray went 10-12 with a 3.55 ERA during the regular season, holding opponents to a .226 average, including a .221 (62-for-281) mark against lefties, the seventh-best mark in the Majors for a right-handed pitcher. The Indians almost certainly will have five batters hitting from the left side, and perhaps a sixth. With the Yankees, Gray made 11 starts, going 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA over 97 innings.
"I'm glad I don't have to face him anymore," Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner said. "He's good at keeping guys off balance, at making the ball move. He's got a good split, a good two-seamer and slider. We're excited about it. I think one of the reasons we got him was to pitch in big games like this. I know he's pumped up about it."
Coming off Tuesday's 8-4 win over the Twins in the AL Wild Card Game, in which Severino lasted just one-third of an inning, the Yankees will need a much better outing out of Gray. In 27 regular-season starts, Gray went six or more innings 19 times and he allowed two earned runs or fewer in 18 outings.
"I think everyone saw what our guys did last night and the way that they came out and performed," said Gray, who was in the bullpen with Sabathia as emergency arms as Yanks relievers recorded 26 outs. "But for me, it's going out there and doing what I do well, knowing exactly what I need to do and let the cards fall where they may."
Gray, who is 2-3 with a 5.28 ERA in five career starts at Progressive Field, is no stranger to the playoff atmosphere. He has two career postseason starts, both with the A's in the 2013 ALDS against the Tigers. In that series, Gray started Game 2 and combined with Grant Balfour on a four-hit shutout in a 1-0 win. Gray also took the loss in a decisive Game 5, allowing three earned runs on six hits and four walks over five innings.
"You know, I love when the atmosphere is at its best and teams are playing at their best," Gray said. "It's a challenge, and it's something that I really enjoy, and I really look forward to being a part of."
Brittany Ghiroli has worked for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.