The Cleveland Indians overcome an early deficit to back Corey Kluber and the bullpen with a 7-2 win over the Chicago Cubs from Wrigley Field to take a commanding three games to one lead in the World Series.
Kluber, who stymied the Cubs in the series opener on extended rest, was good again on short rest in Game 4. The underdog Indians pulled just one win away from ending a 68-year title drought with the hopes of giving the city of Cleveland its second championship in less than half a year after going 52 years without one.
Kluber got the better of veteran John Lackey, but only after getting some help from his friends. The Cubs took the lead just three batters into the bottom of the first, giving the hometown crowd something to cheer about after being blanked for the second time in the series in Game 3 the night before. Dexter Fowler doubled to left before Kluber retired Kris Bryant on a pop up to short, but Anthony Rizzo singled to right-center to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
Carlos Santana took the wind out of the Wrigley crowd leading off the second inning. His solo blast over the ivy in right put the Indians on the board, tying the game at one. The rally continued as Lonnie Chisenhall reached safely at first on a one-out throwing error by Bryant. Roberto Perez grounded back to the mound, moving Chisenhall into scoring position with the second out. Tyler Naquin was walked intentionally with first base open and the pitcher on deck, but Kluber aided his own cause with a slow roller to third. The throw from Bryant was not in time, allowing Chisenhall to score with the go-ahead run.
Jason Kipnis doubled to lead off the third and scored on a single to right-center from Francisco Lindor to push the lead to 3-1. That score held for a few innings until Mike Montgomery entered in relief of Lackey to start the sixth and walked Lindor. Santana reached safely on a single in the infield and Jose Ramirez grounded into a force at second, putting runners on the corners with one out for Chisenhall, who lifted a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Lindor to give the Indians a 4-1 lead.
Justin Grimm returned to the mound for the seventh but Coco Crisp grabbed a bat for Kluber and delivered big again with a leadoff double to right-center. He moved to third on a wild pitch before Grimm plunked Rajai Davis with a pitch, putting runners on the corners for Kipnis. The Chicago area native cut and clobbered a no-doubter to right; the three-run shot gave the Indians a healthy 7-1 advantage.
Andrew Miller worked a quick seven-pitch bottom of the seventh and came back out for the eighth, giving up a leadoff homer to Fowler for the first earned run of his playoff career. He bounced back and got Bryant to ground out before striking out the next two swinging to send the game to the ninth. Dan Otero got a rare appearance in the final frame, giving up a one-out single to Addison Russell, but no further damage.
Kluber showed little ill effects of pitching on just three days’ rest (doing so for just the second time in his Major League career). He worked six innings, using 81 pitches to contain Chicago. He allowed a first inning run and five hits in the game while walking one, hitting one, and striking out six. He took home the victory, his second in the World Series and his fourth of the playoffs. In five postseason starts, Kluber improved to 4-1 with a 0.89 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, and 35 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings. The strikeout total matched a Cleveland team record for strikeouts in a postseason, equaling the number K’d by Orel Hershiser during Cleveland’s 1995 playoff run.
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Also on this date in Tribe history:
2002 – The Cleveland Indians name Eric Wedge as their manager. At the age of 34, he became the youngest manager in Major League history who was not also on the team’s active roster as a player. Two players on his roster at the beginning of the following season (veterans Ellis Burks and Omar Vizquel) were both older than their new skipper.