Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The situation is always ripe for drama whenever the Yankees play the Guardians in the regular season or playoffs. The first regular season matchup was no different as the Yankees took two of three games.

The Yankees performed well despite playing from behind all series. Monday’s loss just happened to be a close game when the top bullpen arms weren’t available. The rest of the series saw the lineup and pitching staff perform to their usual standard.

That’s not even to say Cleveland performed poorly either. They led at one point in all three games. This means that when they visit the Bronx next month, we could be in line for yet another postseason preview.

Hitting: It’s astounding how closely matched the Yankees and Guardians’ lineups are considering they’re polar opposites of each other. New York is builds around hard contact and power. Cleveland, by contrast, puts simple contact hitters around one or two power bats and barely strikes out at all.

And yet, power is why the Yankees won out in the series. Franchy Cordero’s home runs proved difference-makers in Tuesday and Wednesday’s games. Oswaldo Cabrera’s long, go-ahead RBI single traveled 342 feet and probably would have cleared Yankee Stadium’s wall.

Cleveland’s lineup just isn’t built that way, even with good power bats in Jose Ramirez and Josh Bell. Josh Naylor also adds some lefty pop. The problem is that in a contact-oriented lineup, contact goes both ways. In the Guardians’ case this series, too much of that contact resulted in outs.

Pitching: What Cleveland and New York have in common is strong pitching staffs and both were on full display this series. Shane Bieber and Gerrit Cole each pitched seven innings in their respective starts. Both teams’ bullpens also got their chances to shine.

And yet, neither the Yankees nor Guardians put their best arms forward this series. Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt are filling in for the injured Carlos Rodon and Luis Severino. Hunter Gaddis and Peyton Battenfield, in turn, only pitched because Triston McKenzie and Aaron Civale are injured themselves.

It’s still unknown if Rodon or Severino will be available when Cleveland visits next month but if either man is, expect another competitive series.

How do the teams match up? It’s April and we must assume the Guardians will be a better team once everyone’s healthy. The same goes for the Yankees. It’s also highly likely that these two meet in the postseason again.

And at this point, New York is still the better team. No disrespect to Cleveland, but the AL Central is MLB’s worst division and the only real competition is the Twins. The Yankees, meanwhile, are already playing behind the undefeated Rays and the Blue Jays are also a looming threat.

Throw in players returning from injury and come playoff time, New York will be a tough matchup against Cleveland or any other team.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.