CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber was dominant in his first World Series start, and he made an early lead stand up in a 6-0 win over the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the Fall Classic from Progressive Field Tuesday night.
Over six-plus innings of work, Kluber surrendered just four hits to the offensive-minded Cubs. He registered nine strikeouts and did not surrender a run or walk. It was the third time in four starts this postseason that Kluber did not surrender a run.
Kluber was historically good over the first three innings of Game 1, as he set down eight Cubs hitters down on strikes.
Those eight strikeouts were a World Series record over the first three innings of a single game. Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson were among those who each registered seven strikeouts over the first three innings of a World Series game.
Also, the eight Ks 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.
While Kluber was dominant on the mound, his battery mate, catcher Roberto Perez had himself a memorable World Series debut.
Perez went two for four with the two home runs and four runs batted in, while Lindor and Ramirez each collected three hits in four plate appearances against the Cubs. Perez is the first Indians player ever to hit two home runs in a World Series game.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead over the Cubs with a two-out rally in the bottom of the first inning of Game 1.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor got the rally going when he smacked a single up the middle and into center field. Then, with first baseman Mike Napoli at the plate, Lindor stole second base on a 2-0 pitch and slid in without a throw after catcher David Ross dropped the ball on his windup.
Eventually, Napoli drew a walk, and designated hitter Carlos Santana loaded the bases when he worked a second straight free pass against Cubs starter Jon Lester.
Down in the count, 0-1, third baseman Jose Ramirez hit a 60-foot infield single that drove in Lindor for the game’s first run. Then, with Lester ahead in the count, 0-2, outfielder Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch, and that drove in Napoli.
Perez is known more for his defense, and while he has managed a patchwork pitching staff due to injuries over the second half of the season, he has been able to deliver big hits throughout the postseason.
And deliver Perez did in the fourth inning of Game 1. Down in the count, 0-1, after swinging at a first-pitch strike from Lester, Perez smashed a belt-high fastball over the wall in left field for his second home run of the postseason.
Perez’s round-tripper gave the Indians a 3-0 lead over the Cubs.
Indians manager Terry Francona pulled Kluber with one on and no out in the top of seventh inning and went to the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series, left-handed reliever Andrew Miller.
Miller promptly surrendered a walk and a single to left field, which loaded the bases with no out, but that is when the hard-throwing reliever found his command and settled in against the Cubs. After a short fly out to center field, Miller struck out shortstop Addison Russell and catcher David Ross swinging to leave the bases loaded and keep the Indians in front by a 3-0 count.
Miller again worked around a jam in the top of the eighth inning when he struck out designated hitter Kyle Schwarber swinging with runners on first and third with two outs.
The Indians doubled their lead over the Cubs to 6-0 when Perez belted a three-run home run into the bleachers in left field with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
With Guyer and outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall on after a walk and single respectively, Perez took a 2-2 pitch from former Indians farmhand Hector Rondon over the wall for his second home run of the game and third of the postseason.