Deep breath in, deep breath out. Repeat.
My inner baseball fan is raging a blue streak to rival Ralphie’s dad in A Christmas Story. I’m sure yours is too. But this game happened. I don’t know why things went down the way they did. Maybe somebody out there in Believeland forgot to wear their lucky socks or washed the shirt they’ve worn for every win in the post-season. Maybe it’s because my daughter and I watched the first few innings at the Mexican restaurant down the street instead of at home. At any rate, the Indians lost Game 6 on Tuesday night. The biggest positive take-away is simply that they’re still playing.
Let’s talk briefly about how this all went down. Indians’ starting pitcher Josh Tomlin got two quick outs to start the 1st inning. For about 12 minutes, everything was bright and shiny and new. Then the proverbial “all hell” broke loose. First Kris Bryant slammed a solo home run, followed by a pair of singles from Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist. Then the pretty boy who would be the thorn in the Indians’ collective side all night, Addison Russell, hit a fly ball to right center that should have been routine out. Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall bungled the call and the ball dropped between them. Naquin retrieved it and threw the ball in to cut-off man Kipnis, who threw it in. Here’s what the play at the plate looked like:
Yes, that is Ben Zobrist assaulting Roberto Perez in the manner of a steam train. And the Cubs were up 3-0 before the Indians even came up to bat the first time.
Then it got worse.
Tomlin started the 3rd inning by walking Kyle Schwarber, then allowed singles to Rizzo and Zobrist again. With the bases loaded and 1 out, Terry Francona pulled Tomlin in favor of Dan Otero. During the pitching change, I hustled my kid home so she could still get to bed at a reasonable hour. Our timing was good because then we didn’t actually need to see what came next, only hear Addison Russell hit a grand slam home run. In the World Series. I’m glad somebody’s childhood dream got to come true.
The Indians’ attempts to get the runs back were thwarted by Cubs starter Jake Arrietta. It’s probably simplest to just give his line for the night: 5.2 innings pitched, 3 hits, 2 earned runs, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts. All told, the Indians only managed 6 hits on the night. Half of those came from Jason Kipnis, who, bless his heart, tried to win the game all by himself. Kipnis came in a triple shy of the cycle and was the one bright spot in an otherwise sluggish Cleveland offense.
The Cubs did a lot of things right while the Indians did or had plenty of things go wrong. Let’s put it this way–in the bottom of the 6th, Jose Ramirez hit a foul ball that broke part of the video board. It was one of those nights. And the Indians didn’t help themselves when they had the opportunity, going 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position and leaving 8 on base. The most egregious (and painful) instance came in the 4th, when the Indians had the bases loaded with 2 outs. Naguin had the chance to redeem himself from the blown fly ball in the first inning, but instead struck out. Arrieta is the first Cubs pitcher to get a bases-loaded strikeout in the World Series since Tex Carleton in 1935.
Look, this was a painful game all around. There will be a Game 7. The World Series isn’t over yet.