Exhale, Cleveland, Exhale.
Sunday night saw the most thrilling game of the World Series (yet), and the Indians found themselves just on the wrong side of the ledger, as they fell to the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at Wrigley Field. Trevor Bauer was excellent, until he blinked for one second and gave up three runs. John Lester was dominant, and Aroldis Chapman pitched 2 2/3 innings in relief for an impressive save. Both teams had chances to score more in this game, but both teams were able to dance out of enough trouble to keep the score close the entire evening.
Trevor Bauer may not be a great pitcher – it’s hard to say, and frankly, it’s a discussion to have in a few weeks or a few months. He oscillates between being a pretty good pitcher and a pitcher who has no reliable out pitch, and we saw him lapse into that second guy for a brief stretch in the 4th inning. Prior to that, he was actually magnificent, gliding through the first three innings without a big of hassle. The Indians struck first in this game on a 2nd inning solo shot by Jose Ramirez, and it looked like maybe it would be enough (if Bauer could hold the slim lead until Miller Time, maybe that would have been a reality), until it wasn’t.
Regardless, that ended Bauer’s night and Tito turned to Mike Clevinger for the 5th inning, Bryan Shaw for 1 1/3 innings, and then Cody Allen for 1 2/3 more. The bullpen (yes, even Clevinger!) did it’s job, but the offense just couldn’t muster enough to make it count, not that they were wanting for opportunities.
In the top of the 5th, Carlos Santana led off with a double, but a ground out, strike out, and ground out erased that threat.
In the 6th, Rajai Davis singled, stole second, and scored on a Fransico Lindor single to make it a one run game, but Lindor was thrown out stealing second.
In the 7th, Mike Napoli singled and advanced to second on a passed ball, but again the Indians failed to capitalize, going fly out, strike out, HBP (seriously, does Brandon Guyer have a baseball magnet in him?) ground out.
In the 8th, Rajai Davis notched a 1-out single and promptly stole 2nd and 3rd, but Kipnis fouled out and Lindor struck out without ever swinging at a pitch (and it hurt, too, because Chapman’s first pitch was an 88mph slider that hung over the outside corner – I promise Lindor wishes he had that one back).
The 9th inning was without drama as Napoli, Santana, and Ramirez went down quickly and quietly.
And so we’re off to Cleveland.
The good news is self-explanatory: the Indians have a 3-2 advantage and two games at home, including Corey Kluber in Game 7, but nothing is guaranteed. Objectively, the Chicago Cubs are probably a more talented team than the Indians, but they haven’t played like the better team thus far.
The Indians will hand the ball to Josh Tomlin who once again makes the biggest start of his life, and the Cubs will counter with Jake Arrieta. Being able to work counts and get into that bullpen by the 5th or 6th inning will loom enormously for the Tribe as they hope to win the second major sports championship in Cleveland this year.
And don’t forget the biggest silver lining of all: if the Indians are going to win it, they’re going to do it at home.
Get hyped Cleveland, and get some rest until Tuesday night.
Remember: It’s Cleveland Against the World.