CLEVELAND -- It all comes down to Game 7.
Unable to clinch their first World Series title in 68 years in each of their first two attempts against the Chicago Cubs, first at Wrigley Field Sunday, and then, again on Tuesday night at Progressive Field, the Cleveland Indians have one final chance to bring home the championship with Game 7 in front of the home fans.
Here are four reasons why the Indians will beat the Cubs and win the World Series for the first time since 1948.
KLUBER IS ON THE MOUND
The Indians rode the solid pitching of staff ace Corey Kluber and timely hitting to beat the Cubs, 7-2, in Game 4 of the World Series at Wrigley Field last Saturday night.
Over six innings of work, Kluber allowed just five hits, one walk and one earned run against six strikeouts. Kluber found a way to strand five Cubs runners and registered his first postseason hit in the top of the second inning.
During five postseason starts, Kluber has registered 35 strikeouts against eight walks and allowed just three earned runs over 30.1 innings of work. Kluber has a 4-1 postseason record, with one win each against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series and the Blue Jays in the Championship Series, and two against the Cubs.
“That's a good feeling, and I know they love their guy too, as they should,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It's Game 7. You've got two really, really good pitchers, and it will be exciting. It's an honor to even be a part of it, and we're going to give it everything we have. I can't imagine a better group of guys to go through something like this with. I'm looking forward to it already.”
Because the Indians suffered a 9-3 loss to the Cubs in Game 6, the Indians had an opportunity to rest their top three relievers, Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen and most notably, left-handed flame-thrower Andrew Miller, a mid-season trade acquisition from the New York Yankees.
Miller has pitched in nine games this postseason, and over 17.0 innings of work, he has struck out a Major League Baseball record 29 hitters against just four walks and eight hits with just one earned run coming on a home run in Game 4 of the World Series.
KIPNIS HEATS UP AT RIGHT TIME
Outside of Game 1 of the ALDS against Boston, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis struggled to hit the ball, but the opposite has been the case against his hometown team, the Cubs, in the last week.
Twice in the last three games, Kipnis went three for five with two runs scored, a double and home run. Over those two games, he drove in four runs.
After smacking a lead-off double to deep center field and coming around to score the Indians’ first run of Game 6 on an RBI single from Mike Napoli in the fourth inning, Kipnis continued a one-man crusade to get his team back into the contest in the bottom of the fifth.
Ahead in the count, 3-1, Kipnis took a pitch from Cubs starter Jake Arrieta to the opposite field and over the wall in left field.
“I haven’t been a Cubs fan since the Indians drafted me, so I’m all in with the Tribe,” said Kipnis, a Northbrook, Illinois, native. “Game 7 of the World Series, it’s going to be a phenomenal experience for me, for everyone being a part of it, but we’re going to really want this one.”
HISTORY VS. HENDRICKS
Although the Indians did not push across a run against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks in a 1-0 win in Game 3 at Wrigley Field last Friday night, they had him in trouble when he was in the game for 4.1 innings of work.
The Indians pounded out six hits and drew two walks and had at least one runner on base in each of the five innings Hendricks started.