The Chicago Cubs made their first appearance at Progressive Field since Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and bludgeoned Indians starter Josh Tomlin and the bullpen in a 10-3 romp on Tuesday night.
On a cool and rainy night from downtown Cleveland and coming off of a late arrival from Baltimore in the early hours of the day, the Indians found themselves down big early as the Cubs bats busted out by playing a little home run derby in the early innings before steadily tacking on against the usually reliable Tribe bullpen.
Before the Cubs took the lead and never looked back, the Indians had a chance to jump out in front against right-hander Tyler Chatwood, whose command has been problematic throughout his first month with Chicago. Jason Kipnis drew a one-out walk in the first and Jose Ramirez singled, but Yonder Alonso grounded into a double play around the horn.
Tomlin worked around a double in the first, but he got into big trouble in the second. After striking out Tommy La Stella to start the inning, Kyle Schwarber obliterated a baseball, putting a 117-MPH exit charge into a Tomlin changeup to put the Cubs on the scoreboard, 1-0. Chicago was not done, as Addison Russell doubled to the gap in right-center and came on in to score on a single by Ian Happ to make it 2-0.
The home run ball cost the Indians again in the third. Tomlin started the inning the same way that he had the previous two, striking out the leadoff man, but one out later, Willson Contreras extended his hitting streak to six straight games with a laser to left that landed on the Home Run Porch, pushing the Cubs lead to 3-0.
The Indians got a rare hit with runners in scoring position in the third to get on the board, but they missed out on a chance for more against the erratic Chatwood. Bradley Zimmer reached on an infield single. A walk by Rajai Davis pushed Zimmer into scoring position. Curiously, Francisco Lindor dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position and Kipnis grounded out to third, scoring Zimmer but leaving Davis stuck at second. Ramirez laced a single to right (part of a three-hit game), where Jason Heyward fired a seed home, catching Davis in a bang-bang play at the plate for the final out of the inning, leaving the game at 3-1.
The Cubs punished the Indians for the missed opportunity. Schwarber led off the fourth with another clout to right, blasting a 2-0 curveball deep into the seats. After Tomlin retired the next two, Happ continued his big day at the plate with a homer the opposite way to left, making it a 5-1 score and sending Tomlin to the showers.
Chatwood continued with his occasional command issues on the mound, walking a batter in the fifth and sixth innings, but he escaped the night with a quality start with plenty of run support to give him a little additional room for error. Those runs would pour in again in the seventh, when the Cubs tacked on three more against Zach McAllister in his inning of work. Three straight singles from Heyward, Happ, and Albert Almora Jr., the latter of which was a bunt back towards the mound, scored a run on a glove flip error by McAllister to the plate. Baez grounded home a second run in the inning while moving Almora to second. Anthony Rizzo reached on a pitch in on his hands that he squibbed softly between the mound and Kipnis for an infield single and, after a fly out by Contreras, La Stella singled in the eighth run of the night.
Cleveland got an extra run in garbage time against Justin Wilson, as Ramirez doubled to start the bottom of the eighth, moved to third on a one-out wild pitch, and scored on an infield single by Edwin Encarnacion to make it 8-3. But, just because everything seemed to come up Chicago, the Cubs plated two more in the top of the ninth as a Rizzo single drove in Baez after his leadoff double and La Stella added another RBI with his groundout following a walk by Contreras and a wild pitch from the sixth Tribe pitcher of the game, Matt Belisle.
Son of former Indians pitcher John Farrell, Luke Farrell, pitched the bottom of the ninth, sandwiching singles in between three strikeouts. Zimmer was able to move to second on his one-out base knock due to a throwing error by Happ in left and came in to score with two outs on a single by Erik Gonzalez.
The Cubs (11-9) improved to 8-5 on the road this season with the 10-3 win. They pulled two games over the .500 mark with their second straight victory. The Indians (12-9) saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, but they remained two games up on Minnesota in the AL Central as the Twins dropped their fourth straight in an 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees.
CHATWOOD WINS HIS FIRST
Chatwood got his first win as a member of the Chicago Cubs with a quality outing and plenty of run support. The W only came easy due to the big run support, as he once again had a tough time with location, but proved at times to be effectively wild. For the third time in four starts this season, Chatwood walked at least five batters and for the season, he has walked 19 in 21 2/3 innings.
He allowed a run on four hits with five strikeouts.
TOMLIN IN TROUBLE
Tomlin’s M.O. for years is that his aggressiveness with the strike zone would lead to the occasional home run, but that since many of them were solo shots, the damage was minimized. Unfortunately, giving up four home runs in a game proved to be a bit excessive, as the Cubs hit the ball hard all over the yard and quite a few times well over fences.
Tomlin, who had not started since April 10 against Detroit, lasted just three and two-thirds innings in the defeat, his third of the year. He allowed five earned runs on seven hits while striking out three.
HAPP A DAY
Happ had a big day at the plate, recording three hits, driving in two, and scoring twice. Schwarber’s video game numbers at Progressive Field continued as well as he hit his fifth and sixth homers of the season in five trips to the plate, pushing his season batting average over the .300 mark by two points. Almora and Baez each extended their hitting streaks to seven games.
The Tribe and Cubs will conclude the Cleveland portion of their regular season series on Wednesday evening in a 7:10 PM ET start from Progressive Field. The two clubs will play again in late May at Wrigley Field.
Left-hander Jon Lester (2-0, 3.10 ERA) will get the start for the Cubs, looking for his third win of the year. The 34-year-old 13-year vet and former member of Tribe manager Terry Francona’s rotation in Boston has dominated Cleveland in his career, posting a 4-0 record in the regular season at Progressive Field with a 3.72 ERA and a 7-1 lifetime mark against the Indians with a 3.03 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 15 starts.
The Indians will counter with right-hander Trevor Bauer (1-2, 2.67). He took the loss his last time out, despite a quality effort on Friday against Baltimore. He has faced the Cubs just once in the regular season, firing seven innings of shutout baseball against them in a win in 2015.
And finally, the answers to Tuesday’s Tribe Trivia…
The Indians received this future Hall of Fame outfielder from the Cubs in a trade in 1954, sending Sad Sam Jones, Gale Wade, and $60,000 cash to Chicago. The slugger, far better known for leading all of baseball in homers for six straight seasons while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, played ten seasons before a lengthy broadcasting career with the New York Mets. Who am I?
– Ralph Kiner
This speedy outfielder spent the 2003 season with the Cubs in one of two separate trips to the Windy City. The majority of his career, however, was spent in Cleveland with the Tribe before becoming a perennially playoff bound journeyman in the last half dozen seasons of his career. Who is this all-time Tribe leader in steals?
– Fan favorite (and Hall of Fame snub) Kenny Lofton
This Cleveland native began his big league career at the turn of the century with the Chicago Orphans, spending the 1899 and 1900 seasons there before jumping to the Cleveland Blues team in the new American League in 1901. He became a mainstay in the Cleveland infield, spending ten seasons manning the hot corner. After several years of minor league ball in Toronto after his days with the Naps ended, he returned to the pro circuit with the rival Federal League in 1914 and 1915. Who am I?
– Bill Bradley
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak