Series Status: Indians lead 3-1
W: Corey Kluber (5-1, 0.75)
L: John Lackey (0-1, 4.85)
MVP: Jason Kipnis: 3-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R
The Cubs entered Game 4 of the World Series looking to even things up and avoid an elimination game Sunday. The task facing Chicago was a tough one with Indians ace Corey Kluber starting on short rest. John Lackey, who had struggled in his first two postseason starts, opposed Kluber for the Northsiders.
The Cubs finally got to Kluber in the bottom of the 1st inning. Dexter Fowler led off the game with a bloop double to left field, then Anthony Rizzo fisted a single to center field to score Fowler and give the home team a 1-0 lead.
The Chicago lead didn’t even last one batter into the top of the 2nd, as Carlos Santana destroyed a Lackey hanger for a solo homer. An error and an intentional walk put two men on for Corey Kluber, who dribbled a grounder toward third base. Kris Bryant attempted a barehanded throw that got away from Rizzo allowing the go-ahead run to score. 2-1 Tribe.
Cleveland added on to their lead in the top of the 3rd inning, when Jason Kipnis doubled and scored on a Francisco Lindor single to make it 3-1. It was at this point my frustration with John Lackey boiled over, but more on that later.
Both Lackey and Kluber matched zeros the next two innings. The Indians added a run in the top of the 6th with a sacrifice fly from Lonnie Chisenhall off Mike Montgomery. Chicago native Kipnis put the Cubs away in the top of the 7th inning when he took Travis Wood deep for a 3-run bomb to give the Indians a 7-1 lead.
Fowler rocked Andrew Miller in the top of the 8th with the Cubs’ first World Series home run to cut the lead to 7-2. That was all the Cubs would do as the Indians closed it out for the easy win. The Cubs are now facing a 3 games to 1 deficit in the series.
Finding something positive in Saturday’s game was not very easy to do. Jason Heyward did have two hits for the first time since September. Fowler also had a double and that late home run to show some signs of life. Perhaps the only good news for Chicago was that Game 4 was not the clincher.
Corey Kluber is well on his way to World Series MVP honors after his second dominant start. He was not as good as Game 1 pitching on short rest, as the ace gave up more solid contact and base runners. Even so, the line was all you could ask for in a World Series: 6 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K. Kluber is in line to start game 7, but at this point it probably won’t be needed.
Let me begin by saying that John Lackey did settle down and pitch well his last two innings. Still, it was a very disappointing postseason for him. The big Texan was signed to win in the playoffs. He was even quoted as saying he came to Chicago for jewelry not a haircut. Unfortunately, he failed to get past the 5th inning in any of his October starts. His complaining and yelling at umpires loses all its meager charm when he hangs meatballs in the middle of the zone.
The Cubs were sloppy almost from the start tonight, especially in the 2nd inning when Bryant attempted to make a great play to get Kluber. You really got the sense, especially with the young players, that the Cubs were pressing and trying to do too much. They were chasing pitches in the dirt and trying to do everything at once. No stage has seemed too big for the young Chicago boys this year, but this may be the most hyped World Series in a long time. The insane atmosphere in Wrigleyville may be too much for any team. Here’s hoping this is a valuable learning experience for everyone.
Jon Lester (2-1, 1.69 ERA) tries to stave off elimination Sunday night at 7:08 CT. Trevor Bauer (1-0, 5.00 ERA) looks to pitch Cleveland to its first title in 68 years. I’m not going to sugar coat this, the odds of a Cubs comeback are not good. 40 of 46 teams with a 3-1 lead in the World Series have won it. The 2004 Red Sox fans had a saying when they were down 3-0 to the Yankees: “Make history or we’re history.” Perhaps the Cubs will come back and make history, or perhaps I’m kidding myself. Time will tell.