The Chicago Cubs have waited 71 years to host a World Series game. Their fans will have to wait at least one more day to get their first home win since Game 6 of the 1945 World Series as the Cleveland Indians blanked the Cubs, 1-0, in an instant playoff classic from Wrigley Field on Friday night.
For six innings, the score was deadlocked at zero as both starters, Josh Tomlin and Kyle Hendricks, kept the opposition off of the scoreboard while exiting before completing the fifth inning. Bullpens took over and continued to put goose eggs on the board until the seventh, when the Indians put together the rally that they needed. After grabbing a one-run lead, the bullpen tandem of Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen took over for Andrew Miller and walked a tight rope, but pulled out the victory.
The story early on for the Indians was missed opportunities. They put two runners on in the first inning against Hendricks, getting singles by Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor with one out. Lindor was picked off of first after a replay review and Mike Napoli struck out swinging to end the scoring threat. Jose Ramirez singled to start the second, but was erased on a double play grounder by Roberto Perez to end the inning.
Tomlin gave up his first hit in the second to cleanup hitter Ben Zobrist, but left him standing at second.
The Indians wasted a two-out walk from Carlos Santana in the third and stranded two in the fourth. Lindor singled to start the inning and Ramirez singled with one out. A grounder by Chisenhall forced Ramirez at second and with runners on the corners, Perez struck out.
Cleveland loaded the bases with one out in the fifth and chased Hendricks early. Tyler Naquin singled to left and moved to second on a perfect sacrifice from Tomlin. Santana walked and Kipnis was hit by a 2-2 pitch, bringing Justin Grimm on from the Chicago bullpen, but Lindor grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to squander a scoring chance.
Tomlin put the leadoff man on base in the fourth and fifth innings. He walked Kris Bryant in the fourth before setting down the next three. Jorge Soler got his first hit of the postseason with a leadoff single in the fifth and moved to second on an out from Javier Baez. Another groundout from Addison Russell ended Tomlin’s night, but Miller got pinch-hitter Miguel Montero to line to right for the final out. Both sides went down in order in the sixth, with Miller striking out the side in the process.
Carl Edwards Jr. returned to the mound for the seventh when the Indians struck through. Perez singled to the gap in right and was lifted for pinch-runner Michael Martinez. Naquin sacrificed him to second and he moved to third on a wild pitch from Edwards before Rajai Davis drew a walk. On a designed pitch, catcher Willson Contreras fired a bullet to third to attempt to pick off Martinez, but the play survived replay review. That would be significant as Coco Crisp pinch-hit for Miller and hit a pitch in on the handle of his bat into right field to score Martinez with the go-ahead run. Davis was gunned down at third on the play on a strong throw from Soler in right before Kipnis grounded out, but Cleveland had a 1-0 lead.
Shaw retired the first two batters he faced in relief of Miller on grounders before Soler tripled past a leaping Lonnie Chisenhall at the right field line. With the tying run at third, Shaw got Baez to ground to his friend Lindor at short to end the inning.
The Cleveland bats were quiet the rest of the way, set down in order in the eighth and ninth by Pedro Strop and Aroldis Chapman. The Chicago bats were busy, but the Tribe bullpen got the big outs it needed.
Shaw started the eighth by getting Russell swinging before a pop up from pinch-hitter Kyle Schwarber. Dexter Fowler singled to left-center, bringing Allen on from the ‘pen. He struck out Bryant on four pitches to send the game to the ninth.
Anthony Rizzo jumped on the first pitch of the Cubs’ last at bats, singling to left. Zobrist struck out swinging before Contreras grounded out to third, moving pinch-runner Chris Coghlan into scoring position. Down to their final out, Jason Heyward grounded to Napoli at first. He blocked the ball but was unable to field it cleanly, holding Coghlan at third with Heyward reaching base safely. Heyward stole second, putting the winning run in scoring position, but Allen struck out Baez swinging on high heat to end it.
The Indians took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and reclaimed home field advantage by stealing a game from the Cubs at Wrigley Field. A Cubs victory on either Saturday or Sunday night would guarantee that the series returns to Progressive Field next week.
Cleveland now has five shutouts in the 2016 postseason, a Major League record. The win from the Indians on Friday guaranteed that they will not lose more than three games in a row during the entire 2016 season. Manager Terry Francona improved to 10-1 in the World Series during his managerial career.
TOMLIN TERRIFIC IN SHORT OUTING
Tomlin made the biggest start of his career the most emotional, as he got to pitch in front of his father who has been battling a medical condition that has left him partially paralyzed. His father was able to make the trip to Chicago to see his son pitch on the biggest stage that baseball can provide.
He honored his father with four and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball. He allowed just two singles, walked one, and struck out one while using just 58 pitches on the night, almost ensuring that he will be the man called upon if the series goes to a sixth game back home in Cleveland.
Hendricks pitched around some problems all game long, but he kept the Indians base runners away from home plate. He worked four and one-third innings after allowing six hits and two walks, but with no runs scored and six strikeouts. He hit one batter and picked off one base runner and needed 85 pitches to get through his 13 outs retired.
Crisp was the star of the game, delivering the pinch-hit game-winner in the top of the seventh. Lindor and Ramirez each had a pair of hits for the Tribe.
The Cubs had just five hits and a walk on the night. Soler got two hits in three at bats, including a dangerous triple late, but was lifted for the pinch-runner Heyward.
The Cubs left seven men on base and were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
SANTANA STARTS IN LEFT FIELD
The loss of the designated hitter due to the National League rules was going to create a dramatic change to the Indians lineup, which was going to be without Santana or Napoli due to the pitcher hitting.
Francona found a different way to solve the problem – he started Santana in left field. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Santana became the first player since 1931 to make his first career start at a position in a World Series game.
The switch-hitting Santana was 0-for-1 at the plate, striking out once, but he drew two walks. He left in the fifth inning as part of the double-switch when Miller entered the game in relief for Tomlin.
PEREZ’S SPECIAL DELIVERIES
Perez and his wife welcomed their second child into the world on Thursday. He celebrated it by delivering the hit that ultimately created the decisive run in Game 3.
Yan Gomes replaced Perez after he was lifted for a pinch-runner in the seventh and made his first appearance of the postseason. The recovery and return of Gomes is a story not discussed enough, as he was working his way back from a separated right shoulder when he broke his hand in a rehab start at Double-A Akron.
He defied the odds by returning to the Cleveland lineup for the final series of the season against the Kansas City Royals and homered in one of his two plate appearances in the final game of the regular season on October 2.
THE LAST TIME…
The Cubs were last shutout 1-0 in the World Series in 1918. Their opponent was Boston and the winning pitcher for the Red Sox was…Babe Ruth.
The Indians are the first team to win a 1-0 game in the World Series since 2005, when the Chicago White Sox dealt the same score to the Houston Astros in a clinching Game 4.
The Cubs are just 2-12 all-time in World Series games at Wrigley Field, the worst winning percentage for any team at their home ball park, with a minimum of five games played.
(h/t to ESPN Stats & Info on all tidbits)
Saturday, 10/29/16 (8:00 at Wrigley Field) – RHP Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14 ERA) vs. RHP John Lackey (11-8, 3.35)
Sunday, 10/30/16* (8:00 at Wrigley Field) – RHP Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26) vs. LHP Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44)
Tuesday, 11/1/16* (8:00 at Progressive Field) – TBD
Wednesday, 11/2/16* (8:00 at Progressive Field) – TBD
The right-hander Lackey will make his first start of the World Series and his third start of the postseason overall on Saturday night. He boasts a 2-1 record and 3.42 ERA in six games (four starts) in the World Series, but is winless in two starts this postseason for the Cubs with a 5.63 ERA and 1.88 WHIP after allowing five runs on ten hits with five walks and seven strikeouts in eight innings of work.
Tribe ace Kluber will start on just three days rest in Game 4, doing so for just the second time in his career. He worked his shortest outing of the postseason the first time he was used in such a way, allowing two runs in five innings to the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 4 of the ALCS. In his first postseason, he is 3-1 with a 0.74 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.
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