Indians fall to 58-66
This game was billed as a starting pitchers' duel, and so it proved. Two proven aces went toe-to-toe for nearly the whole game, with honors basically even, Corey Kluber having struck out 11 in 7.2 IP and Jon Lester six in 8.2 IP. Ultimately, the game was decided in the 9th by yet another amazing bomb by Kris Bryant, who added another big entry to his resume for potential NL Rookie of the Year honors.
Going into the 9th Lester had only thrown 84 pitches and was on for a Maddux. When Ryan Raburn was hit on the foot, the Tribe had their leadoff man aboard, and after Jason Kipnis struck out, Francisco Lindor somehow managed to convert a horrible-looking swing into a dribbled single. After another strikeout on Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana stepped up big-time with a single and the Tribe had tied the scores (and prevented the Maddux) with their very last plate appearance. But it was all in vain when Kris Bryant took Zach McAllister deep to RF after the latter had struck out the first two in the 9th.
Corey Kluber began in fine fashion, striking out a pair in a 1-2-3 opening frame, including Kyle Schwarber on three pitches, and then repeating that feat in the 2nd. He had to survive a real scare in the next inning when the 3rd base umpire awarded David Ross a home run, but Tito challenged the call and a replay review showed that it was just the wrong side of the foul pole. (Thankfully, the neighborhood play doesn't apply to home runs.) Kluber then came back to strike out Ross for his fifth of the afternoon and had faced the minimum through three innings. At this stage the Cubs were certainly making him work for it, as he had already racked up 49 pitches.
However, facing the top of the lineup again in the 4th, the Tribe's ace struck them out in order in just 11 pitches, taking the K body count to eight. He was almost as efficient in the 5th, striking out Kris Bryant as he whizzed through the inning in 12 pitches.
Alas, Kluber's perfect game bid was foiled with one out in the 6th when Ross hit one just short of Brantley in LF, but the Klubot came back with his 10th strikeout. Things then unravelled a little in the 7th when a Chris Coghlan one-out double was followed by an Anthony Rizzo triple to put the Cubs on top 1-0, but Kluber forced a couple of ground outs to limit the damage.
In the 8th Starlin Castro singled to leadoff, and after Kluber got his revenge on Ross with his 11th strikeout, he hit Dexter Fowler on the hand and was removed with two outs, having thrown 121 pitches. Kyle Crockett then came out in relief and inflicted a fourth strikeout of the game on Schwarber to end the danger.
Meanwhile, Lester was efficient rather than spectacular, as he skirted his way through 8.2 scoreless innings before Santana tied up the scores. The Tribe did their level best help him out with no less than four double plays. After a 1-2-3 1st, Lester hit Santana on the toe on a 2-0 count, but Aviles gift-wrapped the first double play. Then in the 3rd a one-out single by Giovanny Urshela was again nullified by a double play when Kluber's bunt attempt went awry.
The Tribe had a great opportunity in the 4th, but after Kipnis singled and Lindor walked, they failed to take advantage as Brantley made a fly out to CF and Santana then made it three consecutive innings with a double play. A 1-2-3 in both the 5th and 6th at least prevented the Indians from another GIDP. But it was back to more of the same in the 7th when Santana ground into his second double play after a Brantley single.
After Yan Gomes singled to lead off the 8th, Aviles somehow managed to avoid a double play in bunting him over Typically, Tito ignored the adage "never play for one run when behind on the road"), which almost inevitably resulted in zero runs being scored. And so the stage was set for a dramatic 9th inning that ended in wild celebrations for the Cubs.
The Indians now return home for to games against the Brewers, starting tomorrow.
Win Expectancy Chart
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