Cleveland Indians (Kluber 18-9, 3.14) vs. Chicago Cubs (Lackey 11-8, 3.35)
Cleveland leads Series 2-1 8pm ET Saturday on FOX
The Cleveland Indians won a nailbiter Friday night, beating the Cubs 1-0 to regain homefield advantage and take a 2-1 lead in the World Series. Josh Tomlin turned in his third straight solid start of the postseason, allowing just 2 hits and a walk over 4 ⅔ before giving way to Cleveland’s suffocating bullpen, while Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks lasted 4 ⅓ innings, giving up 6 hits and 2 walks, before exiting the game with one out and the bases loaded, but Justin Grimm would get Francisco Lindor to hit into an inning-ending double play. Indians pinch hitter Coco Crisp drove home pinch runner Michael Martinez with the game’s only run in the 7th with a line drive single to right off Carl Edwards.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona has been riding the hot hand when it comes to handling his pitchers this postseason, and so with a shot at a World Series title, and 40% of his starters on the mend, he’s decided to put the pedal to the floor and go with a 3-man rotation, thus putting the Game 4 ball in the hand of Game 1 hero Corey Kluber. In four starts during his first postseason, Kluber has been brilliant, allowing just 2 runs in 24 ⅓ innings, while fanning 29. In Game 1 of the World Series he completely shut down the Cubs’ lineup, allowing 0 runs on 4 hits while striking out 9 and walking none in 6 innings of the Indians’ 6-0 win. But Kluber’s least successful outing of these playoffs was the only other start of his career on three days rest, when he gave up 2 runs on 4 hits and a pair of walks in Cleveland’s 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays in the ALCS – most days that’s good enough to win, but in October it can cost you a ballgame.
Once among the best playoff pitchers in baseball, John Lackey has been well short of great this time around, lasting just 8 innings over 2 starts, while giving up 5 runs on 10 hits and 5 walks, though the Cubs did manage to win both games. The Cubs are no doubt hoping that a 9-day layoff is just what he needs to recharge his batteries.