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.
After dropping Game 2 of the World Series in a 5-1 defeat, home field advantage has now escaped the possession of the Cleveland Indians. With the series relocated to Chicago’s Wrigley Field, the Cubs have three home contests left and the Indians have two, with the first team to win three of the next five games crowned the champions of the baseball world.
After giving Corey Kluber sufficient run support in a 6-0 Game 1 win over the Cubs, the offense went cold in Wednesday’s second game of the series against right-hander Jake Arrieta, who flirted with a no-hitter until the middle innings. Cleveland’s lone run scored after its first hit, a double by Jason Kipnis, and a wild pitch later in the inning. Seven Indians pitchers (including starter Trevor Bauer) combined to allow five runs on nine hits with eight walks, and two errors from the defense aided the Cubs cause.
The Indians cannot afford mistakes against a strong offensive club like that of the Cubs and in Game 2, it cost them. They will have to be much more refined if they want to tilt the series back in their favor and force a return to Cleveland’s Progressive Field for at least one more game.
The Cleveland Indians blanked the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-0, on Wednesday afternoon to claim the American League pennant and a trip to the World Series for the first time since 1997.
Ryan Merritt channeled his inner Gene Bearden and gave the Indians nearly half a game of shutout baseball. Supported by a first inning run and a pair of home runs later, the young southpaw handed the game over to the dominating Indians bullpen, who got the final 14 outs to send the city of Cleveland to yet another world championship series in 2016.
For the first time since September 28, the Cleveland Indians lost a game when they were defeated by the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-1, in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday. In the span to follow, they won each of their final three games to close out the regular season (and missed a game due to rain in Detroit), then swept the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series before taking a commanding three-game lead in the ALCS over the Blue Jays.
Now, in order to claim the American League pennant and advance to the World Series, the Blue Jays will have to do something to the Cleveland club that has yet to happen to them in 2016 – the Indians must lose four consecutive games. With their backs against the wall, the Blue Jays got enough offense and a dominant pitching effort on Tuesday afternoon in the 5-1 victory over the Indians to extend the ALCS to a Game 5. Aaron Sanchez outlasted Corey Kluber, and the productive Indians bullpen was touched for three runs in the late innings to make a close game a little bit more lopsided at the end of the day.
The season is on the line for the Blue Jays. The Indians know that they need just one win over the next three games in four days to clinch their first pennant since 1997.
The Indians went into the All-Star break sitting atop the American League Central with a healthy six and a half game lead. It was a sizeable advantage, but it was just too early in the season to feel that that lead was a safe one. Cleveland had held the number one spot in the division for five weeks, but it seemed a reasonable fear that one of Detroit or Kansas City would find a way to make things a little interesting as the season headed into its final two and a half months.
The city, fresh off of the unfamiliar sight of a championship trophy it could keep, had also enjoyed an Indians franchise record 14-game winning streak, which concluded at the start of July when the Tribe visited Toronto for four games. They sputtered some into the break after that stretch, going 3-6 to end the first half with a 52-36 record. Fans had taken some notice of the club, with the high of the NBA Championship still present, but the distraction of Cavaliers playoff games no longer an issue.
There were those among the Indians viewing audience throughout the first half who were not surprised by Cleveland’s performance in the unofficial first half of the Major League season. But even the most steadfast and positive members of the fan base felt that the roster needed a little something more if it was going to hold off the charges of the division rivals while maintaining the strong first half put up despite a steady flow of adversity.
Instead of sitting idle, or just dipping a toe into the trade pool, the Indians dove in head first.
The Cleveland Indians will return to the American League Championship Series as they stormed into Boston and completed the three-game ALDS sweep of the host Red Sox, 4-3, on Monday night.
Cleveland’s story book season will continue on as one of the stars of the game, David Ortiz, closed the final chapter of his. Josh Tomlin gave the Indians a strong start on the mound, Tyler Naquin and Coco Crisp had two big RBI each, and the Cleveland bullpen held on for a nailbiter of a finish at Fenway Park before champagne flowed for the second time this season for the underdog Tribe.
On a national stage, the story of Ortiz’s farewell overshadowed what was an entertaining, heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat kind of game that screamed playoffs. It served as yet another reminder for the overlooked and possibly overachieving Indians ball club that they will have to keep on winning to get the respect that they deserve.