Cleveland leads World Series 3-1
I'm not sure where to begin. There are so many wonderful things that I could say about tonight's game, about the 2016 playoffs, about the 2016 Cleveland Indians in general. I guess I will start with the fact that this was much less stressful than last night's game. The game started off poorly with the Cubs getting on the board early thanks to a couple of BABIP-fueled hits off the bats of Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo. I'll admit, I let out a pretty audible expletive in the bottom of the first. My mother reminded me that I would have to cool it on the swearing once my young two year-old nephew showed up; luckily, the Tribe played fantastically after inning one and never looked back after taking the lead in the top of the second inning.
Corey Kluber. Corey Kluber is fantastic at baseball, and he proved, once again, why he is the ace of this staff. There were whispers in the first inning that Corey Kluber was going to fall victim to the same fate that befell Clayton Kershaw when the Cubs eliminated the Dodgers in the NLCS. Corey Kluber laughed (yes, laughed because his emotions have peeked through his hard robotic exterior) and instead went 6 strong innings. AND, because of silly NL baseball rules, he actually put up an incredible at bat in the second inning and his infield hit led to the error that scored the Tribe's second run of the night. On the pitching side of things, Kluber's breaking pitches got stronger and broke further as the game progressed. Cubs hitters looked to be pressing all night long, which made his 2-seamer and his curveball that much more lethal all throughout the game. If the Tribe wins the World Series, Kluber may have a fairly strong case at World Series MVP. There are some other players who deserve consideration (Andrew Miler and Francisco Lindor, namely), but Kluber would probably get my vote.
Last night's game featured lackluster offense on both sides; tonight, the Tribe broke out and exploded for 7 runs. The scoring started in the top of the second when Lando Carlossian launched a no-doubt home run to right field off of starter John "Shiny Teeth" Lackey. Lackey looked visibly frustrated all game, which is understandable seeing as he was up over 50 pitches after two innings. He was probably also very frustrated at the fact that his offense was providing almost no support for him.
The Cubs' game was paralleled by the events of the top of the second inning. Following the Carlos Santana home run, Jose Ramirez grounded out and Lonnie Chisenhall reached on an error by Kris Bryant (his first of two errors on the night). Following the error, Roberto Perez had a swinging sacrifice on a grounder to the pitcher, advancing Chisenhall to second. Tyler Naquin came up to the plate, and Joe Maddon gambled by intentionally walking him to get to Corey Kluber. Corey Kluber put up the best at-bat of the early innings for the Tribe and hit a slow dribbler up the third base line on the eighth or ninth pitch of the AB. The slow roller allowed Chisenhall to advance to third, and Kris Bryant committed his second error in the inning when he threw the ball wide of first base, causing Anthony Rizzo to drop the ball and stumble about just long enough for Chisenhall to round third and come home to score, giving the Indians a lead that they would never relinquish. Cubs player (and fans) were visibly frustrated all night, most notable of which was Wilson Contreras.
While Kluber continued to cruise, the Tribe continued to tack on runs and give some breathing room to their ace. Jason Kipnis continued his incredible night when he opened the third inning with a double and was then promptly brought home by an equally hot Francisco Lindor single. They struck again in the sixth thanks to a #Chisentober sac fly. The one extra insurance run made me feel much easier going forward, but I wasn't entirely comfortable. That changed in the very next inning when the veterans, Coco Crisp and Rajai Davis, both got on via a double and a hit by pitch, respectfully. Enter Jason Kipnis. And, well, the Chicago kid put a cap on an amazing game:
The last visiting player to hit a 3-run home run at Wrigley Field in the World Series was a gentleman by the name of Babe Ruth. Kipnis grew up in Chicago and was a Cubs fan growing up. Tonight, he came back home and put his team in a position to win the World Series. For me, who really started following the Tribe intensely in 2012, quickly chose Kip as my favorite player, and that hasn't changed. I don't think I've ever cheered as hard as I did for Kipnis tonight. He knows that this team is special, and he's making all Tribe fans proud.
One minor thing from tonight. Andrew Miller came into the game with the Tribe up 7-1, and a lot of folks were a little confused. My guess was that, since Miler was already warm, he was going to come into the game regardless of the score. He gave up his first run of the postseason, proving that he is, in fact, a mortal. That being said, his two strikeouts on the evening puts him at 29 in the postseason, which is a postseason record. If there was ever a time for Miller to give up a home run, it was tonight in garbage time. He's going to come in tomorrow and shut the door on the Cubs.
The Cleveland Indians are one win away from their first World Series title since 1948. They've proven that they can beat the very best of the best. They swept the vaunted Boston Red Sox. The made quick work of the Toronto Blue Jays. And now, they're one win away from defeating the best team in baseball for a championship. Things are alright in Cleveland.
And no, the "3-1" meme is not going to curse the Tribe. They're winning this whole damn thing. Cleveland against the world. Game 5 is tomorrow, get excited.