CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin learned a hard lesson in Tuesday’s 9-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs in Game 6 of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field, and it proved to be a costly one for the team.
In the first inning, a miscommunication on a fly ball that would have ended the frame with just one run being scored by the Cubs turned into a two-run mistake, one in which the Indians never fully recovered from in the lopsided loss.
“Lonnie went hard after it, as he should, but it's Naquin's ball,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He was playing on that side and he's the center fielder. And I think at the end there, as Lonnie was kind of pulling off, Naquin was yelling, ‘It's yours. You got it.’
“It's pretty loud anyway. I think we kind of told Nake especially playing on that side, that's his ball. ‘Just take charge and take it.’ Kind of made it hard on Lonnie because you've got to go hard until you hear something. That was an unfortunate play because we thought we were out of the inning with one, kind of regroup, and instead, it's three and JT had to keep pitching.”
Down to their final strike in the top of the first inning after the first two hitters lined and grounded out respectively, third baseman Kris Bryant belted a solo home run into the bleacher seats in left field. The 400-foot blast put the Cubs in front of the Indians, 1-0, but the damage was far from done.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo and left fielder Ben Zobrist followed with back-to-back singles to right-center field, which put runners on the corners with two outs. Shortstop Addison Russell delivered the big blow when he flared a double that should have been a fly out to center field.
However, Naquin and Chisenhall both pulled off pursuit of the potential fly out and the ball fell between them for a two-run double as both Rizzo and Zobrist came around to score, which gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
“It was one of those in-betweeners,” Naquin said. “Lonnie got a good break, I got a break and it’s just one of those deals, man. It’s kind of one of those deals you wish you could take back. Me being the center fielder, I need to charge on that and not rely on that. That’s my mistake.”
In addition to his defense, Naquin had a difficult game at the plate, as he went 0 for 2 with two strikeouts, including one with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
“Absolutely. I want to make up,” Naquin said. “I want to let Tomlin off the hook, see if he can keep going or whatnot, but it’s kind of one of those things you’ve got to learn from. It’s a heck of a situation to learn from it being in a series like this, but you’ve got two ways to look at it. You can grow up or you can just dwell on it.”