Indians lead series 3-2
Joe Maddon asked Aroldis Chapman to step out of his comfort zone tonight. Only three times in 2016 did Chapman pitch for more than one inning. Once, on July 9th, he went went more than two. This happened to be a 2.1 inning win in extras against the Cleveland Indians while he still played for the New York Yankees. Tonight, he cruised for 2.2 innings to pick up the save and send the World Series back to Cleveland.
In the next day or so, Joe Maddon is going to receive an incredible amount of praise for the faith that he placed in his closer. I'm not suggesting that Maddon made a poor decision or a particularly excellent decision. He did keep the ball in the hands of his best available pitcher when it mattered the most, and did not have a backup plan.
Not only did #Cubs Maddon let Chapman hit in the 8th, there is no one even warming up in the 9th— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) October 31, 2016
He took a chance by relying on his closer to go longer than he ever had during the regular season, and it paid off. The Chicago Cubs closed out a 3-2 win against the Cleveland Indians, and the series will return to Cleveland for game six and game seven, if necessary.
The Indians opened up the scoring with a home run by Jose Ramirez in the second inning. The Cubs did not respond until the fourth inning. It ended up being the only response the Cubs needed to win the game. Kris Bryant hit a solo home run, and on the next pitch Anthony Rizzo hit a double that would have been a home run in any other ballpark.
Ben Zobrist followed this action with a single, and then Addison Russell hit a nubber to third and beat out the throw, scoring Rizzo. Jason Heyward struck out, but then Javier Baez broke his slump with a perfect bunt down the third base line. David Ross followed it up with a sacrifice fly. Bauer struck Lester out looking on a gorgeous curveball to escape the inning, but the damage had been done.
In the sixth inning Rajai Davis pulled the Indians back within one. He reached on a single. After this, with Jon Lester on the mound, Davis stealing was a foregone conclusion. He scored on another single by Francisco Lindor, reducing the deficit to one run. Lindor took off for second base as well, but a perfect throw by David Ross and an excellent tag by Tagmaster Javier Baez snuffed him out to end the inning.
This would be the last inning for Lester, as Carl Edwards Jr. entered in the top of the seventh. He served as only a short bridge to their closer, Chapman. As I noted earlier, It's not unprecedented for Chapman to come in this early, but it is rare.
Aroldis Chapman's longest career relief appearance: 2.1 IP vs. Cleveland on July 9, 2016. Never has gone 2.2 IP out of the pen.— Jacob L. Rosen (@JacobLRosen) October 31, 2016
He kept the Indians from putting another run on the ancient scoreboard in center field and tallied another save, his fourth of the post season.
Matt, isn't it time to panic and start setting things on fire?
No. The Indians need to win one of the next two games in order to close out the World Series, and even in tonight's loss, there is a lot to like. After Bauer managed to throw only four innings, Mike Clevinger, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen tossed four shutout innings to keep the Tribe within striking distance.
I don't believe you. The Cubs have Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks coming up, and Kyle Schwarber can DH in both games.
While both of these things are factual, neither of them spell doom for the Cleveland Indians, M-O-O-N, that spells doom, laws yes. Josh Tomlin is the most likely candidate to start game six for the Tribe, and in the last two months he has been sensational. By increasing the frequency at which he throws his curveball, Tomlin continues to maul opponents. Since September, Tomlin has a WHIP well below 1.0, and an ERA of about 1.70. I'm eyeballing and feel the pressure of filing this article as quickly as possible, so I apologize for the lack of specificity. The point is that Tomlin has been an elite pitcher since the calendar flipped over to fall, and his hands are an excellent set in which to rest the hopes of another Cleveland Championship.
It doesn't matter I'm still going to panic and I've already torched my neighbor's geraniums.
There's not much I can do for you here, friendo. I'm not the only one who wanted the Indians to close it out tonight against Chapman for reasons that extend beyond the diamond. It was not to be. However, given the off day, all pitchers will be available for game six on Tuesday. This means Miller, Allen, Shaw, and Dan Otero will all be ready to support the starter if necessary. It is also probable that Corey Kluber will either start or enter game seven and pitch a significant number of innings.
Hey what about the offense? You've, like, barely even talked about it.
Well, I don't have much to work with tonight, do I? The Indians tallied only six hits, and uncharacteristically failed to draw a single walk. The Tribe's arms once again held one of the best offensive teams in baseball to a paltry number of runs, but the bats will need to show up in either game six or game seven to win this series. I do not foresee the Indians adding to their record of five postseason shutouts.
Fine but can Baseball Tonight just stop posting this .gif already it's hardly even a .gif and by the way they have zero cartoons of Indians players.
NOW BATTING: AROLDIS CHAPMAN pic.twitter.com/uCr60yktT1— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) October 31, 2016
No. Unfortunately, @BBTN is going to tweet it pretty much every time the Cubs manager decides to do anything. They'll post it when he decides not to do something. They'll probably post it if the Cubs lose game six and cite the importance of having a near-miss in the early stages of developing a dynasty. Whatever. Francisco Lindor is basically a living, breathing, cartoon character of sheer delight already.