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Cubs deliver devastating gut punch to force Game 7

The entire season rests on the shoulders of Corey Kluber tomorrow night

MLB: World Series-Chicago Cubs at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs 9, Indians 3

Box score

Series tied 3-3

This is not the recap I wanted to write.

I wanted to write the one about how a never-say-dies team fought through devastating injuries to deliver Cleveland their first World Series win in 68 years.

I wanted to write the recap about how the Cubs, the consensus best team in baseball, couldn’t overcome Josh Tomlin and the Tribe bullpen.

I wanted to write the recap about how my wife and I planned my wedding in April in Cleveland so we could attend our first Opening Day ever, and that magical season was bookended by a world championship.

But I won’t be writing that recap. Instead, I’m here to write a recap of one of the worst sports experiences of my life. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to read it, because I don’t want to write it. Sometimes, though, life just forces you to endure things that you hate, so let’s get this over with.

It’s really difficult in baseball, perhaps more than any sport, to say that one play determined the outcome of a game. You can never be sure what would have unfolded if a given play did or didn’t happen. All that said, Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall’s gutwrenching botched fly ball ended this game before it barely had a chance to start.

Josh Tomlin cruised through the first two batters of the game in five pitches, and we all believed for a minute that his lighting-in-a-bottle wasn’t quite ready to burn out. Then the world began to crumbl. Tomlin hung a curveball to Kris Bryant on 0-2, which Bryant hit approximately 600 feet. Back-to-back singles put runners on the corner, but Josh was in position to easily work out of it as Addison Russell lifted a lazy flyball to right centre. What followed was the most devastating defensive miscue in Indians history since Tony Fernandez’ Game 7 error in 1997. It was a play that will repeat in my mind for eternity if the Indians lose Game 7 tomorrow. Tyler Naquin charged in but rather than camping under the ball, he decided to look right at Chisenhall, who in turn looked at Naquin before both of them watched the ball drop to the ground. Anthony Rizzo scored, and Chisenhall frantically gunned the ball in toward home to try to cut down Ben Zobrist. Jason Kipnis fired a one-hopper which Roberto Perez couldn’t hang onto as Zobrist trucked him, and the Cubs took a 3-0 lead. For all intents and purposes, that was the game.

Tomlin worked a 1-2-3 2nd, but exited the game in the 3rd inning with the bases loaded. On his second pitch in relief, Dan Otero grooved one to Addison Russell, who deposited it into the bleachers for a corspe-kicking grand slam. At this point in the game, I lost all sense of feeling and spent the past two hours in an emotionless trance, so I really can’t tell you what happened from there on.

From what I gather, the Tribe had a few shots to come back. Mike Napoli drove in Jason Kipnis, who led off the 4th inning with a double. The Tribe would load the bases with two out that inning, only for Tyler Naquin to contribute the most predictatble strikeout in World Series history. Kipnis later clubbed a solo homer to push the Tribe within five runs. But the rest of the night, offensively, is a tale of wasted opportunity. The Indians nearly loaded the bases against Aroldis Chapman in the 7th, but Chapman decided to actually cover first for a change, and Francisco Lindor was called out on the review of a bang-bang play at 1st.

Speaking of Chapman, he was visibly annoyed with being asked to pitch in the 7th inning of a blowout. The Indians threatened to take advantage of that in the 8th when Jose Ramirez singled, but Yan Gomes weakly grounded into a double play to end the inning.

On the pitching side of this, there were a few drops of positivity in a sea of toxic sadness. Danny Salazar pitched two shutout innings and looked sharp. Mike Clevinger looked decent over two innings as well, until an Anthony Rizzo moonshot in the 9th. But perhaps best of all, The Circumstances remain well-rested for tomorrow nights winner-take-all Game 7.

It’s hard to muster any positivity right now, but I’ll start with this: we have our best pitcher ready to go, and he’ll have our best bullpen guys ready to back him if necessary. The offense is showing signs of life, and they already beat Kyle Hendricks once. Lastly, Maddon’s usage of Chapman seemed really odd tonight. Though he worked an efficient 8th and was pulled after one out in the 9th, Chapman was displaying some frustration and also seemed to have trouble locating. If it comes down to another close and late situation in Game 7, perhaps we can finally break Chapman and secure the fairytale ending we were all hoping for tonight.

But it’s going to be a long, long 24 hours. Try to remain calm. Try not to panic. Buckle up, folks, and Let’s Go Tribe.