There’s a statistic that says that the team that scores first in a World Series game is more than likely to be the team that wins the game. It happened last night, and it happened tonight. Of course, the looming weather didn’t help to normalize tonight’s game. But since when are World Series games actually “normal”?
Of course, it certainly helped once again that the winning team was helmed by a really good pitcher having a really good night. Tonight, it was the Cubs’ turn, behind starter Arrieta. Arrieta threw a near-perfect game, keeping the Indians hitless and scoreless up until the 6th inning, where Kipnis broke it up with a nice double. Kipnis then moved to 3rd on a ground out before scoring on a wild pitch.
A single was the final play that Arrieta saw before he turned things over to the Cubs’ bullpen, who finished the 6th inning and threw into the 8th inning. Chapman was called on to make his appearance, a 4-out close. The Cubs kept the Indians to that lone run scored. Together, Cubs’ pitchers also racked up 12 total strikeouts against the Indians as well.
My brother commented that someone needed to remind the Indians they were playing baseball. A little snarky, but I know the sentiment well. It seemed that the Indians struggled everywhere, including only getting 4 hits off Cubs’ pitchers (though they managed 5 walks as well).
But the Indians’ biggest flaw tonight was their pitching consistency, as it seemed that the first half of the game was just kind of messy at times. Bauer came back with a healed finger (read: not dripping blood all over the ball, stitches healing nicely), but still didn’t manage a clean game. In the 1st, Bryant worked a 1-out single and then scored on Rizzo’s double to get the Cubs on the board first (the key word of the night).
In the 3rd, Rizzo worked a 2-out walk, moved to 2nd on a single, and then scored on Schwarber’s single. Bauer was pulled in the middle of the 4th and the rotating door of the Indians bullpen began (for players who weren’t Miller or Allen).
In the 5th, McAllister and Shaw split a messy inning, as they collectively allowed the Cubs to ensure their win, expanding their lead. Under McAllister, Rizzo worked a 1-out walk (yes, he got 2 walks tonight) and then scored on Zobrist’s triple. Then under Shaw, a single by Schwarber (who once again had a pretty good night as the Cubs’ DH) scored Zobrist. A strikeout looked hopeful for the Indians, but it was the Cubs’ game to win tonight. A fielding error and a walk loaded the bases before another walk scored Schwarber to cement the Cubs’ victory.
The rest of the Indians’ bullpen did a better job at fending off the Cubs, but still ran into some of their own problems and jams along the way. In total, the Indians’ pitchers gave up 9 hits and 8 walks in total. This game was clearly the Indians’ to lose, and lose they did.
Final score: 5-1 Cubs, series split 1-1.
The series now shifts to Chicago for the next 3 games, beginning on Friday night. At this point, the magic number is 3. Meaning either team needs 3 more wins to be World Champions. One of these perpetual underdog Midwestern teams will break their long drought in just 3 more wins. One city (and its fans) will be really happy, and another will have yet another year to wait for another chance to break the long drought.
Only time, and some pretty good baseball (hopefully), will tell.