Eight to Go

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NEW YORK CITY: Two months ago, the last place David Cone and John Burkett expected to be was on the mound for the opening game of the playoffs. But that is just where they will be Tuesday night when Cone's Yankees take on Burkett's Rangers in Game 1 of the American League playoff series. Cone, who underwent surgery on an aneurysm in his throwing shoulder on May 10, and Burkett, who was toiling with the lowly Florida Marlins before being traded to Texas, each played key roles in righting their struggling teams in September. Cone rejoined the Yankees on September 2, with their 12-game lead over the Orioles down to just 2 1/2, and pitched seven no-hit innings sparking the Yankees down the stretch to their first division title in 15 years. Burkett's heroics also came with his team on the verge of collapse. The Rangers saw their nine-game lead over Seattle whittled down to one in just nine days, before Burkett beat the Angels 7-1 to help lead the team to its first playoff berth ever. In other playoff action beginning Tuesday, the Cleveland Indians visits Baltimore to take on the wild-card Orioles in the first game of their best-of-five series. Charles Nagy will take the hill for Cleveland, who finished with the best record in baseball for the second straight year. David Wells pitches for Baltimore, in the playoffs for the first time since 1983. In the National League, San Diego travels to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals after winning the division with a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves open their bid for a second straight championship on Wednesday when they send John Smoltz to the mound against the Dodgers and Ramon Martinez. Unlike last year, when regionalized playoff coverage limiting fans to one game a night, every game will be shown nationally on either ESPN, Fox or NBC. First pitch of the eight-team tournament: 1:07 p.m. EDT, when the Indians-Orioles game begins. Play Ball. -->