World Series 6: CHC vs. CLE — November baseball continues…

For the 38th time in World Series history (apparently, depending on how you count) there has been a “Game 7”. In fact, both teams have a history of losing in Game 7 — the Cubs in the infamous “Goat” series of 1945 (against the Tigers) and the Indians in the tragic 1997 series (against the Marlins). The only thing is that tomorrow night, one of these teams will actually win this year’s “Game 7”.

I try to be positive on this blog for several reasons. The first of which being that there’s a lot of terrible and negative stuff out there already, and there’s no reason for me to waste my time and energy only to get lost in the vacuous void that is all that. And second, because there’s got to be something that is positive in every scenario, a silver-lining if you will, that reminds you why it’s worth moving forward and why you fell in love with this game in the first place.

So, the positives for this game clearly were in the Cubs’ favor. They showed up to play baseball, knowing this could be the end of their season, and they played hard. And it paid off. They took advantage of the Indians’ sloppy defense and off-night of pitching and made it work for them. Meanwhile, the Indians’ attempt to come back never fully materialized and always seemed to fall short at those crucial, key moments.

I said this going into tonight’s game: the Cubs’ starter Arrieta, being the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, is a really good pitcher. And he showed that in so many ways tonight — throwing into the 6 inning, giving up just 3 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs, and striking out 9 Indians batters. He kept things close and allowed the stellar Cubs defense to shine through at those key moments.

In the 4th, Arrieta showed a bit too much of his hand. Kipnis led things off with a double and then scored on Napoli’s 1-out single. Arrieta then loaded up the bases with 2 outs, a hit-by-pitch, and a walk, but got that all-important strikeout to end the Indians’ rally. Kipnis also got one by Arrieta in the 5th, when he laced a big 2-out home run into the left field seats. (Worth noting: Kipnis hit 3 of the Indians’ 6 hits tonight and scored 2 of their runs.)

But here’s the thing: all that would be amazing and great if not for the fact that the Cubs were already way ahead. Like light-years ahead in the score at this point. You see, Indians’ starter Tomlin just had a terrible night, and really had a hard time with consistency, right from the beginning.

In the 1st, with 2 outs, Tomlin gave up a solo shot to Bryant to get the Cubs on the board first. Rizzo and Zobrist then singled and scored on Russell’s double. But that ball should’ve been caught in the outfield, except neither fielder “called it”, instead letting it drop between them. A “Little League” play, if you will. It made the entire Cleveland area and its fans around the country groan and actually wish they were watching election coverage.

After a quick 3-up, 3-down 2nd inning, Tomlin looked to be righting himself and came back for the 3rd, but instead, he fell back into the rough pattern — loading the bases with a walk and 2 singles. Tomlin’s night was over, and the rotating door of the bullpen began. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on the Indians’ side tonight — Russell saw a pitch he liked and sent it sailing straight up the middle for a big, beautiful grand slam home run. And yes, that makes 7 Cubs runs scored at this point.

The Indians’ bullpen had better luck keeping the Cubs from expanding their significant lead, while not dipping into their reliable three backend relievers (perhaps, knowing they’d need them for tomorrow night?). With no strikeouts from Tomlin, the bullpen alone tallied up 6 strikeouts in its tenure, though they also allowed 7 hits (adding to Tomlin’s allowed 6). But the Indians’ defense showed up to play through most of the game and kept things stalled for the Cubs.

The Indians, however, clearly didn’t have much luck in the offense department tonight, to chip away at that hefty lead. After Arrieta came out, Montgomery took over to shut things down for the 6th and into the 7th inning. And for some weird reason, the Cubs called on Chapman to finish the 7th and pitch into the 8th. Several times, the Indians loaded up the bases, but always failed to do anything to help their score.

In the 9th, the Indians relied on their reliever to finish his 2 inning out, after a fairly clean 8th. With 2 outs, Bryant singled and then Rizzo hit a nice 2-run home run to edge the Cubs a bit further, and left the entire Indians franchise and fan base praying for an 8-run home run in the bottom of the 9th.

They got a partial answer to that one. For reasons that left everyone scratching their head, the Cubs sent Chapman out for another inning, where he promptly allowed a walk to Guyer. So they sent in Strop. With 1 out, Guyer moved to 2nd on a wild pitch and then scored on Perez’s single. Perez would then be thrown out trying to make it a double. After Santana worked another walk, the Cubs went to their bullpen again and called on Wood to throw just 2 pitches for a pop-up out to close out the game.

Final score: 9-3 Cubs, series split 3-3.

So, now we have a Game 7. It’s on. It’s still very much anyone’s game, anyone’s championship, anyone’s season. And isn’t that just a bit more interesting when all is said and done?

Go Yankees!

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