Chicago Cubs (Hendricks 16-8) vs Cleveland Indians (Kluber 18-9)
Series tied 3-3
8pm Wednesday on FOX
Indians starter Josh Tomlin finally turned into a pumpkin last night, getting lit up for 6 runs in just 2 1/3 innings, including a solo homer by Kris Bryant in the 1st and loading the bases to set up Addison Russell’s grand slam off reliever Dan Otero in the 3rd. Cleveland would score a run in the 4th and the 5th, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough to close the gap, as the Cubs would go on to win 9-3 and force a Game 7. And so the two best starting pitchers of the postseason square off tonight with a World Series title on the line, as Kyle Hendricks gets the ball for the Cubs, and the Indians turn to Corey Kluber to catapult them to a world title.
After leading the National League in ERA at 2.13, Kyle Hendricks has continued to dazzle in the playoffs, knocking nearly a full run off that mark with an ERA of 1.31 in 20 ⅔ innings, and he comes into tonight’s game riding a streak of 16 scoreless innings, a stretch that covers 4 and a third in Game 1 of the Series, and goes back to Game 2 of the NLCS against the Dodgers.
Pitching in his first postseason, Corey Kluber has a chance to put a capper on what would be one of the great playoff runs of all time. In 5 starts this postseason, he’s pitched 30 ⅓ innings, giving up just 3 runs on 22 hits and 8 walks while striking out 35, giving him a lower ERA (0.89) than Madison Bumgarner (1.03) in his historic 2014 run, and Kluber has a chance to tie the record of 5 wins in a postseason shared by Randy Johnson (2001) and Francisco Rodriguez (2002). Kluber also has a chance to become the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2001 to win 3 games in a World Series, and the first to get 3 wins as a starter since Mickey Lolich in 1968. In two previous outings against the Cubs in this Series, he’s held them to 1 run on 9 hits and a walk in 12 innings, fanning 15. But be warned, this is Kluber’s third start this postseason on 3 days rest, and his second in a row – nobody admits to getting tired in the postseason, but they do get tired.
After getting 8 outs from Aroldis Chapman in Game 5, Cubs manager Joe Maddon asked him for 7 more last night, while the Indians’ Andrew Miller (17 innings, 1 run, 29 K’s this postseason) got a third day of rest, and their closer Cody Allen (11 ⅔, 0, 22) got a second day, meaning they should be primed to go as many as 4 innings tonight. Giving Cleveland manager Terry Francona’s bullpen management of late, one suspects that his plan all along was to take a couple of rolls of the dice in Games 5 and 6, but save all his bullets for Game 7.