CHICAGO -- After Friday’s 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, the Cleveland Indians are just two victories away from winning their first World Series Championship since 1948 and they have a chance to seize a 3-1 lead tonight with their ace, Corey Kluber, on the mound for Game 4.
Here are five things the Indians need to do in order to put themselves to within a victory of the World Series title.
For the second time this postseason, the Indians are turning to Kluber on short rest, as he will take the ball for Game 4 of the World Series against the Cubs tonight after making the start in a Game 1 win Tuesday night.
In his first short-rest start of the postseason, Kluber surrendered just two earned runs along with four hits and two walks against seven strikeouts in five innings of a tough-luck loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
“Now that I do know that I felt fine, it’s just a matter of using those three days to recover,” Kluber said. “I’ll be fine, and then, just go out there and pitch.
“It’s just basically doing the same stuff in one less day. The sides are a little shorter and things like that, but still able to get in the things I need to get in in-between. I don’t really feel like the last time I did, it made a big difference in the way I felt the day I pitched.”
KLUBER TO CONTINUE WINNING WAYS
Over six-plus innings of work in the Indians’ 6-0 Game 1 win over the Cubs, Kluber surrendered just four hits. He registered nine strikeouts and did not allow a run or walk. It was the third time in four starts this postseason that Kluber did not give up a run.
Eight of those strikeouts came in the first three innings, which broke a World Series record. Orlando Hernandez and Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson each registered seven strikeouts over the first three innings of a World Series game.
Also, the nine strikeouts set the Indians’ franchise record for the most punch-outs in a World Series game. The previous record of seven was set by Orel Hershiser in the 1995 World Series and equaled by fire-baller Jaret Wright during Game 7 of the 1997 Fall Classic.
During the first two rounds of the postseason, Kluber registered 20 strikeouts against seven walks and allowed just two earned runs over 18.1 innings of work in three starts. Kluber has a 3-1 postseason record, with wins coming against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series and the Blue Jays in the ALCS ahead of Tuesday’s victory over Chicago.
Outfielder Coco Crisp got just one at-bat in Game 3 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field Friday night, but he certainly made it count.
Inserted into the lineup as a pinch hitter for pitcher Andrew Miller in the top of the seventh inning, Crisp hit a looping single to right field, which drove in the lone run of the 1-0 Indians win over the Cubs.
“It obviously feels good,” Crisp said. “No matter if you get the big hit or lay the bunt down, you want to do something that can possibly help the team. Fortunately enough for me today, it was the hit.”
Over 4.2 innings of work against the Cubs in Game 3, Indians starter Josh Tomlin allowed just two hits and one walk with one strikeout. However, manager Terry Francona elected to pull him from the game after only 58 pitches, 38 of which were strikes.
Tomlin was relieved by left-handed fire-baller Andrew Miller in the bottom of the fifth inning and got pinch hitter Miguel Montero to line out to right field for the final out of the frame. Then, in the sixth, Miller set down the Cubs in order, 1-2-3, all on strikeouts.
Despite allowing two hits over 1.2 innings of work, Bryan Shaw kept the Cubs at bay, and then, closer Cody Allen nailed down the four-out save. 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 get second baseman Javier Baez to strike out swinging with the tying and winning runs in scoring position to lock down the victory.
SWITCHES AT THE RIGHT TIME
Throughout October, Francona has seemingly made the right moves at the perfect times, and that was no different in Friday’s win over the Cubs, but this time, the switching started long before the game got underway.
Wanting his bat at the top of the lineup, as it has been all season, Francona elected to start Carlos Santana in left field. Typically the designated hitter or first baseman, Santana played in the outfield for a few innings before being pulled from the game.
Then, Francona made a handful of other double switches that included putting Brandon Guyer into left, moving Rajai Davis into center field, substituting Michael Martinez at third base and having Yan Gomes catch his first innings of the postseason.
“That was agonizing,” Francona said. “We had Santana playing left field. That's not a left fielder, so that's one move. Then, we pinch-ran for our catcher. We needed to win that game in nine or Kluber was going to end up hitting at some point.
“As fun of a game as it was to be a part of, that was agonizing because we used so many guys. I think it shows some of the versatility, being able to move Michael Martinez around, and having the confidence in him that he can catch the ball at any position.”