CHICAGO -- For Cleveland Indians closer Cody Allen, the scorecard after Friday night’s 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field read just one hit allowed with three strikeouts over 1.1 innings of work on the way to his four-out save.
But with the winning run on at second base because of an error charged to first baseman Mike Napoli, Allen had to go through a free-swinging Javier Baez to finish off the win, which delivered the Indians to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“We were in a little bit of a jam there,” Allen said. “There's a good hitter at the plate, but that's one of those situations you kind of think about throughout the season or throughout Spring Training or even as a kid. You play that at-bat over in your mind a few times.
“But in that situation, all you're trying to do is slow the game down as much as possible, and just try to make one good pitch. Then, after that one, you just try to make another one. So we were fortunate enough to string a few good pitches together there and get the last out.”
Allen more than earned his sixth save of the postseason, as he had to go through the heart of Chicago’s order, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward, and then, get Baez to strike out swinging with the tying and winning runs in scoring position to lock down the victory.
“We had a pretty good plan against him, but obviously, you've got to execute,” Allen said. “We were just trying to execute some good pitches. We weren't going to give in to him. We had first base open, but you obviously don't want to load the bases.
“There's a dangerous hitter behind him, so when you load the bases in a situation like that, it can shrink the plate a little bit, because when you get behind in the count, you have nowhere to put him. We were going to go after him, but we were also going to be careful. So Yan and I put together a game plan and stuck with it and tried to execute some pitches.”
Rather than feeling pressure and letting that get to him, Allen executed the plan to perfection, as he got Baez swinging at strike three with the winning run just 180 feet from home plate.
“It's enjoyable to be out there, to be on the field, to live that moment of getting the last out and feeling the emotions of getting a win,” Allen said. “To be on the field and to do that, that's a special feeling. But being on the bench or having already pitched or sitting in the bullpen, and when your team gets the last out and you've won the ballgame, it's incredible, too. To be out there, to be the last one to get the out, that's pretty fortunate.”