Tunnel vision can set in during the course of the baseball game, maybe even more so when your team is on the verge of winning a World Series. If it set in for you, it may not have been apparent just how close the Cleveland Indians were to winning — or at least tying — Game 5. Several times.
This cannot happen again tonight.
The Indians had plenty of chances to score in Game 5 against Jon Lester and Aroldis Chapman. Their 10 runners in scoring position were the most in any one World Series game thus far, but they managed just one hit with those runners ready to score.
To make matters worse, four of those 10 stranded runners came the second half of the game, including two leadoff hits. After the Indians were trailing, and after they could have put the game away with a timely hit or two.
- 5th inning - Santana leadoff double, stranded at 3rd.
- 6th inning - Davis single with one out, stranded at 2nd.
- 7th inning - Napoli leadoff single, stranded at 2nd.
- 8th inning - Davis single with one out, stranded at 3rd.
- 9th inning - Nothing.
Davis’ eighth inning romp around the bases seemed like he had closer Aroldis Chapman on the ropes. He had him paying way too mention to him on first base and continued to pester him on second before swiping third as well. Unfortunately, before Davis could make it to third, Jason Kipnis fouled out. It was painful to watch, and i never want to do it again.
That was kind of the whole story for Cubs in Game 5 with the exception of the fourth inning. It was the Indians getting within striking distance then either a) playing themselves out of it or b) the Cubs did just enough to shut it down.
Looking at the ultra-size sample size of one game, there is good news! The Indians only stranded four runners in scoring position in their Game 2 loss to Game 6 starter Jake Arrieta... because there were only four runners in scoring position in the whole game. Ok, maybe it’s not all good news.
However, for as good as Jake Arrieta has been for the Chicago Cubs, he tends to slip when runners get in scoring position. Among 94 qualified starting pitchers in 2016, opponents have the 21st highest slugging percentage when runners reach second or third base (.444). Getting into position is easier said than done against Arrieta, but all I am saying is — if the Indians can do it — there’s a chance. There’s always a chance.
After looking historically bad in the ALCS, the Indians offense is back to its roots in the World Series, mostly. Now they just look closer to how they did in the regular season — a big burst here and there and just enough to win 94 games. Let’s hope for the former tonight.