CHICAGO -- Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley may have been out of the lineup since May 11, but if there was such a stat in baseball, he would be getting an assist for helping the team earn a 7-2 win over the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 of the World Series at Wrigley Field Saturday night.
According to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, starting pitcher Corey Kluber used one of Brantley’s bats in the second inning, and he promptly got a single that turned the whole complexion of the game as a throwing error allowed the go-ahead run to score and Cleveland never looked back.
“We knew that at-bat can really change the tone of the game,” Kipnis said. “For us to get an RBI off of that, that gave us the lead. You know that’s not going to sit well with their pitcher on that side because you’re assuming the other guy’s going to be an out, but he actually battled in that at-bat, and that loosens up a team. When your pitcher is battling like that, your hitters step up and say, ‘Hey, we can’t let Kluber show us up at the plate. We’ve got to step up too.’”
Kluber took the ball on short rest in Game 4 against the Cubs, and all he did was exactly what the staff ace was expected to do.
Kluber spread out five hits and one walk with just one earned run allowed in six innings of work in the 7-2 win for the Indians, which put the team in a position to go for the championship-clinching victory tonight.
“Kluber was outstanding,” Kipnis said. “I don’t think people appreciate how hard it is to come back on three days’ rest. I’m happy that on this kind of stage, he’s finally getting the recognition that he’s due.
“There’s a lot of people, even after his Cy Young Award, that didn’t really know that much about him. He’s one of the best pitchers. I’ve seen it for years, and I’m happy people are finally starting to know his name.”
After getting shut out by Kluber in Game 1, the Cubs went right to work against Cleveland’s front-line starter and likely American League Cy Young candidate as lead-off hitter Dexter Fowler flared an opposite-field double to left.
Two batters later, first baseman Anthony Rizzo smacked a single to right-center field and drove in the first run of the game. However, Kluber settled into a rhythm after the early hiccup and never let the Cubs get rolling again.
“You can start questioning yourself,” Kipnis said. “You have a three-day rest, and you’re like, ‘Oh, man, I might not be as sharp, or they’re due for something.’ I think he reminded himself, along with everybody else here that he’s still Corey Kluber and he’s still got a Cy Young hanging on his mantle. He sharpened up, and once we get him that lead, he didn’t let it go.”
Including the Game 4 start, Kluber has allowed just three earned runs over 30.1 innings of work in five postseason appearances. Kluber has registered 35 strikeouts against eight walks and stands to start Game 7 at Progressive Field if necessary.
“Kluber’s outstanding,” Kipnis said. You’ve got to give him his credit. That guy needs to be a household name with how good he is.”