Grand slam: Addy's round-tripper helps force Game 7


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In Game 6, Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs became the first shortstop to ever hit a grand slam in the World Series. His six RBI fueled the Cubs' victory. - Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
In Game 6, Addison Russell of the Chicago Cubs became the first shortstop to ever hit a grand slam in the World Series. His six RBI fueled the Cubs' victory. - Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND -- Game seven. Widely considered to be the most exciting two words in the sports dictionary, game seven will cap off the instant classic that has been the 2016 World Series. The Chicago Cubs, looking to end their 108-year dry spell of zero MLB championships, forced the World Series finale by defeating the Cleveland Indians 9-3 in Game 6 on Tuesday night to knot the series up at three games apiece. Chicago shortstop Addison Russell was deadly with the bat, going 2-5 and collecting six RBI, as he hit the first grand slam in a World Series game since 2005. Aided by a quality outing from starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, the Cubs led from start to finish and will have all of the momentum heading into Wednesday night’s decisive matchup.

Third baseman Kris Bryant, who went 4-5 at the plate on the evening, incited the scoring for the Cubs in the top of the first, hitting a two-out home run off of Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin. A 426-foot moonshot to left, the homer was Bryant’s third of the playoffs and his second in as many games. With the round-tripper, Bryant became the first Cub to ever hit a home run in consecutive Fall Classic games.

Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo followed up with a single to center, and, after that, left fielder Ben Zobrist continued his hot-hitting ways of this postseason by driving one to right-center. With runners on the corners and Tomlin clearly rattled by the Cubs’ two-out rally, a major gaffe on behalf of Cleveland outfielders Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall made matters worse for the Indians by placing them into an early 3-0 hole.

On what was scored as a two-run double, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell skied what should have been a routine, inning-ending fly out to right-center, but blatant miscommunication by the aforementioned outfielders resulted in the ball going uncaught. Therefore, a scoring technicality that prevents a defensive play involving an untouched baseball from being considered an error resulted in Russell getting credited with a two-RBI double. Following Rizzo's arrival at home, Zobrist scored the second run on the play and the third overall after colliding with Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez at the plate, and Russell advanced to third on the throw home by Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, which was listed as an error by the scorers.

Russell added to the North Siders’ already vast lead in the third inning by crushing a grand slam into the bleachers beyond center field. Prior to that, Tomlin was pulled after giving up a walk and two singles in three of the first four at-bats in the inning, but his replacement on the hill, Indians reliever Dan Otero, fared no better. Russell’s bases-clearing dinger off of Otero made him the first Cubbie and first shortstop in Major League history to hit a grand slam in the World Series. It also tied him for the all-time lead in RBI during a World Series game at six. As for the team record books, Russell matched former Cub Bill Nicholson’s franchise record of eight RBI in a World Series.

Scoring designated hitter Kyle Schwarber, Rizzo and Zobrist, respectively, Addy’s bomb provided the Cubs with a commanding 7-0 lead. Postgame, Russell was modest when discussing his historic performance, saying, "(I) made some pretty good swings tonight. Definitely the confidence is up for tomorrow."

In the meantime, Arrieta pitched very well through the first three innings but found himself hung up in a bit of a jam during the bottom of the fourth. Kipnis, the lone Cleveland batter to have multiple hits in Game 6, led off with a double and was scored on a one-out single by first baseman Mike Napoli. With two outs, a hit batsman, a passed ball and a walk loaded the bases for the Tribe, but Arrieta remained calm and struck out Naquin to quiet the storm and usher in the fifth inning.

Indians pitcher Danny Salazar, a regular starter serving in a relief role for the World Series, stopped the Cubs’ torrential scoring flood in his two innings on the mound. Salazar missed most of the postseason while recovering from a forearm injury suffered in September, but he kept the Chicago hitters at bay tonight in the fourth and fifth frames. However, the Cubs, who finished with 13 hits, inflicted enough damage in the early innings to coast for the remainder of the game.

Arrieta gave up a solo homer to Kipnis in the fifth that cut the Indians’ deficit to five runs. The long ball to left was the fourth of the playoffs for Kipnis, a Chicago area native and childhood Cubs fan. As for Arrieta, the reigning National League Cy Young Award recipient exited after throwing 102 pitches in 5.2 innings of three-hit ball and accruing nine strikeouts, which was one K shy of tying the Cubs’ World Series record.

In the bottom of the seventh, with runners on first and second and two outs, Cubs manager Joe Maddon made the somewhat surprising decision to bring closer Aroldis Chapman into the game, a mere two nights after he threw a season-high 42 pitches. Relieving Mike Montgomery, who had just given up a single to Kipnis, Chapman ended the inning fairly quickly. On the second pitch of Chapman’s outing, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor hit a hard grounder between first and second that forced Chapman to dash and cover first base before the speedy Lindor could reach it. Originally ruled safe, Lindor was called out after a challenge by Maddon and the subsequent replay review revealed that Chapman, after being tossed the baseball by Rizzo, had stepped on the bag just before Lindor. Chapman awkwardly planted his right foot on first in doing so, causing him to hobble for a bit, but nothing came of the minor injury.

Chapman would remain in the game for the bottom of the eighth, an inning which featured an impressive double play exchange between Russell and Cubs second baseman Javier Baez. In the top of the ninth, Rizzo hit his third round-tripper of the postseason, rocketing a two-run homer to right that scored Bryant and put the Cubs up 9-2. Rizzo finished the game 3-5 with three runs scored and three runs driven in.

Maddon decided to sit Chapman once he walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the ninth. The southpaw threw 20 pitches in 1.1 innings of work. Thereafter, Pedro Stop and Travis Word combined to finish off the job and secure the Cubs’ Game 6 victory. The Indians scored a run in the game's final inning on an RBI single by Perez. The Cleveland backstop was gunned down by the cannon-like left arm of Chicago right fielder Jason Heyward while attempting to stretch the hit into a double, though, fully epitomizing the upper hand that the Cubs had over the Indians all night long. Only five teams have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series, most recently in 1985, and the Chicago Cubs are now one win away from becoming the sixth.

Arrieta earned the win to improve to 2-0 in both of his World Series starts, while Tomlin took the loss after allowing six hits and six runs in a meager 2.1 innings pitched. The loss dropped Tomlin to 0-1 this series. Zobrist went 2-4 at the dish tonight and scored two runs in the process. As for Bryant, who produced his best hitting performance of the playoffs in Game 6, he saw his 2016 postseason batting average increase to an impressive .311. For the Indians, who amassed six hits in total, Kipnis was their most consistent hitter, going 3-5 with two runs and one RBI.

Although the 9-3 Game 6 triumph would seem like cause enough for celebration, the Cubs must quickly regroup and prepare for the biggest event in all of baseball, Game 7 of the World Series. Two aces will do battle on the mound tomorrow night at Progressive Field, with Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs, who is 0-0 in one start this series, set to take on Corey Kluber of the Indians, who stands at a perfect 2-0 in the 2016 Fall Classic. The game will commence at 7:00 PM CST on Wednesday night in Cleveland. Each team will be looking to win its third World Series title, with the Cubs hoping to return to the Windy City free from the burden of 108 years of pain but weighted down by the newly acquired Commissioner’s Trophy.








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