What a series so far!
After the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians split the first two games at Progressive Field on historic nights for the city of Cleveland, the series shifted to the Windy City for three straight historic nights in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
The first two nights were day and night for each team.
The Indians shined bright under the Wrigley lights the first two games in Chicago while the Cubs seemed to wither under the historic pressure of trying to win a championship for the first time since 1908.
Game Three was a pitching duel between both teams that ended 1-0 in the Indians’ favor off a pinch- hit first pitch single from Coco Crisp that drove home Michael Martinez. Andrew Miller, as he’s done all postseason stole the show on Friday night as he pitched one and one-third innings of more stellar baseball, striking out three Cubs batters who once again struggled to string hits and runs together.
Game Four was more of an Indians rout, a tale of who could hit with runners in scoring position. Each team strung hits together, but the Indians put them together at the right time in a three run seventh inning all coming from one Jason Kipnis blast that sealed the deal and put the Cubs in a win or go home situation. Corey Kluber stuck to his dominating World series ways with another solid six inning outing, striking out six batters and only giving up one run. Miller came in once again for another two innings, striking out two and actually giving up one run. The Cubs had runners on base throughout the game and posed threats in multiple innings, but couldn’t get the big hit, especially from the bottom of their order.
So down 3-1, and the pressure of the world on their backs, the Cubs came into Game Five with their Ace Jon Lester.
Lester commanded the strike zone from the first pitch and pounded fastball and cutters into the hands of Indian hitters through his six innings of work. Aside from a Jose Ramirez bomb to left field in the second inning and a Francisco Lindor RBI single in the sixth, Lester kept the hot Indians hitters at bay and worked out of a couple jams to give the Cubs a quality start.
Although there were still struggles at the plate, the Cubs flipped the script on the Indians, and were able to pull together a big inning of their own in the fourth. Off of pitcher Trevor Bauer, the Cubs roared across all three of their runs in the fourth thanks to four straight hits to begin the frame beginning with a Kris Bryant solo shot to left, an Anthony Rizzo double to right field the very next pitch, a Ben Zobrist single and an Addison Russell infield single to push across the first run for the Cubs. Following a Jason Heyward strikeout, Javier Baez, the NLCS co-mvp who had been struggling in the World Series, executed a perfect drag bunt single and eventually scored off a RBI sacrifice fly by David Ross.
Before that breakthrough inning, the Cubs had been 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position, a stat that played a big role as to why they were down 3-1 and their backs were against the wall.
The player of the game went to the Cubs’ own dominant lefty Aroldis Chapman who gave his team an unusual two and two- third innings of shut down baseball, striking out five batters and only giving up one run for the save.
For the last home game for the Cubs in 2016, they went out in grand style with Chapman blowing an 100- plus MPH fastball by Jose Ramirez to end the game and begin the famous cheer/song of “Go Cubs Go” by the Wrigley faithful who have painstakingly stuck by their beloved Cubbies for over 100 years.
Now the series heads back to Cleveland for the final two games, if necessary. The Indians are still in the driver’s seat and will most likely bring back Corey Kluber to pitched the potential series clinching game.
Game Six will prove to be just as exciting as Game Five as the Cubs now have some offensive momentum they can build on and this will potentially be the third time that they face Kluber this series. The Indians will look to close out the series and their first World Series since 1948 by continuing to pitch well and long enough to give Miller the ball in the middle to late innings and capitalize on opportunities with runners on base. They will likely face Cubs stud Jake Arrieta.
If you love postseason baseball, then this is the series for you. Tomorrow night, this epic clash will continue.
Do you think the Indians will close it out in Game 6? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.