Cubs shut out by Indians to open World Series


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Starting pitcher Jon Lester did not fare particulary well on the bump for the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series. - Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Starting pitcher Jon Lester did not fare particulary well on the bump for the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series. - Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND -- Returning to the World Series for the first time since 1945, the Chicago Cubs failed to burst onto the scene in Game 1 on Tuesday night, falling to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. In a duel between two franchises that are voraciously hungry for a World Series title, with the Cubs’ last one coming in 1908 and the Indians’ in 1948, Cleveland dominated Chicago in the opening matchup. Led by star pitcher Corey Kluber and starlet shortstop Francisco Lindor, the Indians defeated the Cubs 6-0 to take a 1-0 series lead.

The Indians struck first, executing a two-out rally off of Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester in the bottom of the first. Sparked by Lindor, who has been phenomenal at the plate throughout the postseason, the Tribe scored two runs with two outs to place the Cubs into an early hole. Lindor singled to center and proceeded to steal second. Lester, clearly rattled, walked the next two batters to load the bases. Third baseman Jose Ramirez then reached base on a rather lucky infield single that slowly dribbled toward the third-base line, scoring Lindor as a result.

With his team trailing 1-0, Lester’s shakiness continued, as he hit the next batter to bring in another Cleveland run. If not for an impressive inning-ending snag of a pop-up in foul territory by catcher David Ross, who collided with the net encircling the area behind home plate while making the catch, Cleveland might have inflicted more damage on Chicago in the first. The Indians entered the second inning leading 2-0, nonetheless, and never looked back.

The Cubs wasted a leadoff double by clean-up hitter Ben Zobrist in the top of the second, with Kluber, the second former Cy Young winner to pitch against the Cubs in as many games, striking out three consecutive batters thereafter. One of the batters was Kyle Schwarber, serving as the designated hitter for the Cubs in the American League ballpark. Schwarber, an Ohio native, is just six months removed from having major knee surgery, and his activation off of the disabled list after a brief stint in the Arizona Fall League (and just in time for the World Series) came as a bit of a surprise. The slugger picked up one of only four hits allowed by Kluber on the night with a double off the top of the right-field wall in the fourth inning.

Lester allowed multiple runners to reach base in the bottom the third inning and became testy with the home plate umpire after not receiving the benefit of the doubt on some borderline pitches. Lindor was caught stealing by Ross, with Cubs second baseman Javier Baez barely sweeping the right arm of his longtime friend Lindor on a backward tag, and Cleveland was unable to produce any runs in the frame, as Lindor being thrown out helped Lester settle down.

The Cubs were not so fortunate in the fourth, though, and the Indians increased their lead to three runs. Indians catcher Roberto Perez hit his second home run of the playoffs, dinging a long ball off of a railing just over the wall in left field.

After that, Lester regrouped, and, aside from being victimized by a Ramirez double to lead off the bottom half of the sixth, was flawless from that point on before being pulled after 6.2 innings on the hill. Kluber was relieved in the ensuing inning, pitching six innings of four-hit ball and striking out nine.

Zobrist, who went 3-4 at the dish, chased Kluber from the game by hitting a single to start the seventh. Kluber was replaced on the mound by ALCS MVP Andrew Miller. Miller, a middle reliever who has dominated throughout this postseason, quickly painted himself into a corner when he loaded the bases by walking a batter and giving up a single. However, Miller next showcased why he is one of MLB’s most formidable bullpen arms, getting out three straight batters, two of which came via strikeouts, to end the inning without giving up a run.

A similar scenario occurred in the following inning, with Miller having to escape another foreboding situation, in which Schwarber stepped up to the plate with runners on the corners. Zobrist, the lone Chicago hitter to have any legitimate success against Cleveland's aces in Game 1, singled with two outs and a runner on first to bring the tying run to the plate. Miller was having none of it, though, as he sat down Schwarber to keep the Indians’ shutout intact. Miller, who should be expected to spend an abundance of time on the mound for the Indians during the course of this series, threw 46 pitches on Tuesday, the most that he has thrown in any outing this season.

Perez hit his second homer of the game and third of the playoffs, a three-run blast off of Hector Rondon, in the bottom of the eighth frame and virtually ensured the Indians of a Game 1 triumph. Winning 6-0, the Indians came to play on Tuesday and outmatched the Cubs in every facet. The Cubs amassed seven hits to the Indians' 10 but were so woeful with runners in scoring position that they never seriously threatened the Tribe. Lindor and Ramirez both finished 3-4, and Perez went 2-4 and totaled four RBI. Kluber earned the win and is now 3-1 this postseason with an impressive .74 ERA. As for Miller, he collected his fifth hold of the 2016 playoffs. Lester was given the loss in Game 1 and dropped to 2-1 for the postseason.

The Cubs will look to rebound tomorrow night in Game 2 at Progressive Field. First pitch, which was moved up an hour because of the rain that is looming in tomorrow night’s Cleveland forecast, will take place at 6:00 PM CST. Jake Arrieta will make the start on the bump for the Cubs and square off against Trevor Bauer of the Indians. The winner of Game 1 in the World Series has gone on to claim the title 12 out of the last 13 seasons, so the Cubs, used to having negative streaks working against them, will need to step it up at the plate if they are to have any chance of straying from the recent trend.





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