By Andrew Kahn
The Cubs went 71 years between World Series appearances and had to wait an extra game to score a run, getting shutout in Game 1. They’ll have to wait at least one more game to get their first run at Wrigley, too. The Indians took Game 3, 1-0, scoring the lone run in the seventh. Game 4 is tonight.
1. Tomlin terrific
With his recently paralyzed father in the stands, Josh Tomlin had the game of his life. No, he didn’t pitch long enough to qualify for a win. He only struck out one batter. But given the circumstances, it was an incredible performance. Tomlin allowed a single to start the second inning, walked the first batter in the fourth, and gave up a single to start the fifth. That was it. He was replaced with two outs and a runner on second. He gutted his way through despite a questionable strike zone from John Hirschbeck, whose calls favored the Cubs on close pitches.
2. Cleveland bullpen
The Game 2 recap mentioned that Cleveland has made it this far despite not getting much length from its starting pitchers. Last night was another example. Despite Tomlin getting pulled in the fifth, the Indians didn’t sweat. Andrew Miller got the final out of the inning and struck out the top of the order in the sixth. Miller was pinch hit for in the bottom of the sixth, and Bryan Shaw worked around a fluke triple in the seventh and left with two outs in the eighth. He gave way to closer Cody Allen, who closed the door to give Cleveland its record fifth shutout of the postseason. He and Miller have pitched a combined 25 innings in these playoffs without allowing a run. Terry Francona has managed this bullpen flawlessly in October.
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3. One is enough
Coco Crisp was 0-for-8 as a pinch hitter this season, but he delivered in a huge spot last night. A single, sacrifice, and wild pitch moved Roberto Perez to third with one out. Crisp stepped in and dumped a single in front of right fielder Jorge Soler. It was one of 12 singles; there was one pop fly triple and four walks; Jason Heyward reached on an error in the ninth. There were not many well struck balls in this game, and the Indians were sloppy on the bases. Known for above average baserunning this season, Francisco Lindor was picked off in a bad spot—there’s never a good spot to get picked off, but there was a 1-0 count on the clean-up hitter—and Rajai Davis was thrown out at third on Crisp’s RBI hit. The next batter, Jason Kipnis, decided to dive into first and was called out by a hair. Even the game-winning run almost never happened, as Martinez was nearly picked off third by the catcher.
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4. Lineup decisions
While many speculated Kyle Schwarber would be cleared to play at Wrigley, he was not, at least in Game 3. All he could do was pinch hit with one out and nobody on in the eighth; he popped out to the shortstop. Maddon started Soler instead of Heyward, as the huge offseason acquisition was benched again. Francona went with Carlos Santana in left field. It was a risk, but Francona said before the game that he manages to win, not to avoid second-guessing. Santana, typically a DH who has played catcher and the corner infield spots, has only played four innings in left his entire career. According to Elias, Santana was the first player since 1931 to get his first career start at a position in the World Series. He didn’t see much action and made no mistakes.
5. Looking ahead
The Cubs will try to even the series tonight with John Lackey on the mound. He’ll oppose Game 1 winner Corey Kluber, who is starting on three days’ rest. He did the same in the ALCS and Kluber will start on three days’ rest in Game 4. The ace pitched on short rest in the ALCS and gave up two runs over five innings. He has a 0.74 ERA this postseason but, at the risk of sounding pessimistic, can’t possibly be as sharp as he was on Tuesday. Lackey, meanwhile, will be on nine days’ rest.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about baseball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn