After taking two of three in Chicago at Wrigley Field over the weekend, the Cleveland Indians returned home needing just one more win in the final two games of the Fall Classic to give the Tribe their first World Series title since 1948 while ending the hopes of the Cubs’ faithful for their first championship since 1908.
The Indians will look to give the Cubs another year of agony and torment on Tuesday night as the two clubs meet up in Game 6 of the World Series. The Cubs avoided a dreaded sweep on their home field on Sunday night, holding on for a 3-2 win by taking a page out of Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason playbook and using closer Aroldis Chapman for two and two-thirds innings to secure the one-run win. Backs against the wall, Chicago manager Joe Maddon pulled out all the stops and made a three-run fourth inning stand up, despite several scoring opportunities squandered by the Indians.
Now, the American League’s best home team will host the Cubs, who won 46 games on the road during the regular season for the second-best mark in the Majors. The Indians are 5-1 at home in the playoffs, while the Cubs are 4-3 on the road. Cleveland will look for more dominant pitching at home, bringing in a 1.50 ERA and 1.06 WHIP to match an offense that boasts the top home run hitting numbers at home in the postseason.
GAME TIMES and PITCHING PROBABLES
Tuesday, 10/25/16 – Chicago 0, Cleveland 6
Wednesday, 10/26/16 – Chicago 5, Cleveland 1
Friday, 10/28/16 – Chicago 0, Cleveland 1
Saturday, 10/29/16 – Chicago 2, Cleveland 7
Sunday, 10/30/16 – Chicago 3, Cleveland 2
Tuesday, 11/1/16 (8:00 PM at CLE) – RHP Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40)
Wednesday, 11/2/16* (8:00 PM at CLE) – RHP Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14)
TV (all games) – FOX
Radio (all games) – Indians Radio Network; 670 The Score (Chicago); ESPN Radio
TOMLIN TAKES CENTER STAGE
Tuesday will be the fourth postseason start for Tomlin. He comes in with a 2-0 record and a 1.76 ERA in his first three appearances, working 15 1/3 innings while allowing just three runs on nine hits with four walks and eleven strikeouts. He worked five innings in his first start, a win against the Boston Red Sox in the clinching Game 3 of the ALDS, allowing two runs on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts, before working a postseason-long five and two-thirds innings in the ALCS, allowing just a run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts while earning his second consecutive win.
Tomlin’s struggles in the second half were well documented, but he still put together a quality 13-9 record, 4.40 ERA, and 1.19 WHIP while working as the rotation’s fifth starter. He led baseball for the second time in his career with a 1.0 walk per nine innings rate over the course of 174 innings of 30 games.
TOMLIN AND THE CUBS
Tomlin shut the Cubs down in his start in Game 3. He did not pitch long, likely due in some part to the lineup flipping over for its third trip through and also because the Indians had full intentions on throwing him on short rest. In his four and two-thirds innings, he was exactly what the Indians needed, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out one in a no-decision. The ball was in the air a bit more against the Cubs than it was in his previous start in the ALCS against Toronto, when he got the Jays to pound the ball onto the ground 12 times, compared to just three balls in play in the air.
The Cubs playoff roster is just 6-for-40 (.150) against Tomlin during their careers. Only one Cubs hitter has stepped in against Tomlin more than five times. Ben Zobrist has done so 23 times after spending the majority of his career in the American League; he is just 3-for-21 with a double, a solo homer, and a pair of walks while striking out three times. Miguel Montero has two hits, including a double, in five plate appearances. Jorge Soler has a single and a strikeout in his two trips to the plate against Tomlin.
ARRIETA AIMS TO EXTEND SERIES TO SEVEN
The 30-year-old right-hander and seven-year vet is coming off of another strong season leading the Chicago rotation. His numbers were not as impressive as last year’s, but he managed to set the bar incredibly high with his Cy Young performance that season.
Arrieta was 18-8 in 2016, posting a 3.10 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 31 starts with one complete game shutout, a no-hitter of the Cincinnati Reds on April 21. He finished just eight outs short of a second consecutive 200-inning season and allowed the fewest hits per nine innings in the Majors for the second season in a row. Walks were an issue for Arrieta and command as a whole as he walked a career-high 76 batters, a rate of 3.5 per nine innings, and threw a National League-leading 16 wild pitches on the season. His strikeout rate dropped by more than half a K per nine innings, finishing the year with 190, 46 off of his pace from the year before.
He had various degrees of success in the postseason this year, but his meeting with the Indians in Game 2 of the World Series was a pursuit of playoff history early on. He lasted six innings against the San Francisco Giants in his NLDS start, allowing two runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He gave up four runs in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, giving up six hits and a pair of homers while striking out five.
ARRIETA AGAINST THE INDIANS
Arrieta had the Indians’ number in Game 2 of the series. The lone Cleveland run came after their first hit, a Jason Kipnis double, in the sixth inning. The Tribe’s second baseman scored later in the inning on a wild pitch for the only run that they would get off of the reigning Cy winner. Arrieta allowed just two hits in total in his outing and left after five and two-thirds innings with the lead, with three walks and six strikeouts filling up the remainder of his stat sheet.
Kipnis is the team’s leader in success at the plate against Arrieta with a .375 average with three hits in eight at bats with a pair of RBI. Mike Napoli is tops on the club among regulars with a .462 on-base percentage – he has three hits and three walks in 13 plate appearances with a solo homer and a pair of strikeouts. Carlos Santana has matched Napoli’s three walks, but is just 1-for-6 overall with a homer and a team-high three RBI.
If the Cubs are victorious on Tuesday night, the two clubs will play a winner-takes-all seventh and final game on Wednesday night at 8:08 PM ET from Progressive Field.
Kluber will get the starting nod for the Indians. It would be his second consecutive start on short rest and the third of his career, with all three coming in the last two rounds of this postseason. His last time out, he allowed just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out six batters in earning his fourth win in the playoffs in five starts.
Hendricks is presumed to be the starter for the Cubs in Game 7. He is 1-1 this postseason and has allowed three runs in 20 2/3 innings. He held the Indians scoreless in four and one-third innings while striking out six in Cleveland’s 1-0 victory in Game 3.
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