Chicago Cubs fans waited 71 years for the World Series to return to Wrigley Field. But when it did on Friday night, the result was not what they were looking for.
The Cleveland Indians managed just one run, but the Cubs failed to score at all, and Cleveland took a two-games-to-one lead in the seven-game series.
After six innings of scoreless baseball — with the Indians getting hits but not converting them and the Cubs not really hitting at all — Cleveland finally broke through. Roberto Perez, an unlikely batting hero for the Indians so far in the Series, singled to right, and Michael Martinez came in to pinch run for him. Naquin bunted Martinez over, and he advanced to third on a wild pitch to Rajai Davis, who walked.
Manager Terry Francona faced a tough choice: The dominant reliever Andrew Miller, who had just struck out the side, was up. Let him bat or pinch hit for him with two men on? He opted for the pinch hitter, Coco Crisp. The move paid off, as Crisp lined a single to right, scoring Martinez.
The game had started with two strong pitching efforts. Though he scattered six hits in four and a third innings, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks struck out six and kept the Indians off the board. Indians starter Josh Tomlin was even better, giving up just two hits in his four and two-thirds innings.
Some Cubs fans paid thousands on the black market for tickets to the historic game, and others paid hundreds just to watch the game in nearby bars. They will be looking for a better result when the series continues at Wrigley on Saturday night.
David Waldstein: A terrific ball game. The Indians did what they do best: They got the lead and then let their bullpen shut down the opposition with icy precision. That was the fourth shutout loss for the Cubs in the postseason, including two in the World Series.
Tomlin was good, Miller was great, Shaw was fantastic and Allen was superb. The Indians used a lot of curveballs against the Cubs’ batters, but the last pitch, with the tying run 90 feet away and the winning run on second base, was high heat from Allen, and Baez swung and missed.
The Indians’ relievers bailed out two of their defenders who made defensive mistakes — Chisenhall and Napoli — that allowed Cubs runners to get to third base. Pure guts.
One thing is certain: If the Cubs win the World Series, they cannot clinch at Wrigley Field.
Here’s an inning-by-inning breakdown of what happened in Game 3:
Bottom of 9th: With 2 Runners On, Cubs Can’t Score
The Cubs had their 3-4-5 hitters to try to extend or win the game in the ninth inning. Rizzo got Wrigley roaring again with a single. Zobrist struck out, and Contreras grounded out, leaving the game on the bat of Jason Heyward, who had a poor season and had entered the game as a pinch runner. His grounder looked like it might end the game, but Napoli fumbled it. With pinch-runner Chris Coghlan on third, Heyward stole second uncontested. Baez had men on second and third and a chance to win it. But he struck out, and the Indians took a two-games-to-one series lead.
Top of 9th: Chapman Shuts Down Indians
Pitcher No. 6 for the Cubs was Aroldis Chapman. He got a 1-2-3 inning. Chisenhall struck out. So did Martinez. Yan Gomes, who came in to catch in the seventh, grounded out. The game moved on to the bottom of the ninth, with the Cubs in desperate need of a run, or better still, a walk-off.
Bottom of 8th: Cubs Running Out of Chances
Addison Russell struck out, and the Cubs then turned to their savior, Kyle Schwarber, who had all of five plate appearances in the regular season, but was 3-for-7 in the World Series. There was no magic tonight: Schwarber popped up. Fowler punched a two-out single past the shortstop. With Bryant coming to the plate, the Indians yanked Shaw in favor of Cody Allen. The result was a strikeout, and the game went into the ninth with Cleveland hanging on to its slim lead.
David Waldstein: All things being equal, before the game, Francona probably would probably have liked to have Miller face Kyle Schwarber, but it was interesting how he left Shaw in to face the big lefty slugger, rather than go to Cody Allen for what was a huge at-bat. Shaw does not have reverse splits, but his numbers against left-handed batters have improved this year. Over his career, lefties batted .271 against Shaw in the regular season, but this year it was down to .255. (Hey, it was trending the right direction).
The crowd went crazy when Schwarber came to the plate to pinch hit, but Shaw, who kept busting him up and in, got Schwarber to hit an easy pop-up to the right side of the infield. Allen finally came in after Shaw gave up a single to Dexter Fowler. Allen struck out Kris Bryant. Gomes dropped the third strike and had to make a throw to first, but he got it done.
Top of 8th: Cubs Go Deep Into Their Bullpen
Lindor grounded out, and the Cubs then turned to their fifth pitcher of the night, Pedro Strop. Napoli struck out for the third time, and Ramirez flew out for a rare uneventful inning for the Indians.
Bottom of 7th: Cubs Can’t ‘Get Some Runs’
Between innings, the crowd got a lift from a Daffy Duck-style “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” from Bill Murray that concluded with “Let’s get some runs, suckers!” The Cubs did not answer his plea. With Miller out of the game, the Indians turned to Bryan Shaw to pitch. After Zobrist and Contreras grounded out, Soler hit a fly to right that barely stayed fair. Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall jumped and missed it, and Soler wound up on third base. But Baez grounded out to end the seventh.
David Waldstein: Bryan Shaw is a very underrated weapon in the Cleveland bullpen. Much of the attention is on Miller and Cody Allen, and justifiably so. But Shaw is a workhorse, and Francona depends on him in many situations. Reminds me of Turk Wendell in his role with the Mets in the late ’90s. Looks like Shaw will be out for the eighth, too, with Allen warming and ready in case of trouble.
Top of 7th: Coco Crisp Delivers
The Indians had been getting men on base all night with nothing to show for it. Finally in the seventh they broke through. Perez singled to right, and Michael Martinez came in to pinch run for him. Tyler Naquin bunted Martinez over, and he advanced to third on a wild pitch to Rajai Davis, who had come in as part of a double switch. Davis walked, and Francona faced a tough choice: Let the dominant Miller bat or pinch hit for him with two men on? He opted for the pinch hitter, Coco Crisp. The move paid off, as Crisp line a single to right, and the Indians scored the first run of the game. Davis was thrown out at third on the play. With two outs, Mike Montgomery replaced Edwards on the mound. Kipnis grounded out in a close play, despite a desperate dive for the first base bag, But the Indians had a crucial run on the board.
David Waldstein: Well, things got very interesting when Miller’s spot in the order came up early as the Indians sent five batters to the plate in the seventh. With runners at the corners and one out, Francona was forced to pull Miller for pinch hitter Coco Crisp, who delivered. But Miller won’t be in the game to protect the lead.
Another interesting move earlier in the inning was to pinch run Martinez for Roberto Perez after Perez had singled. That worked, too. But Perez has caught every pitch of the postseason for the Indians. Yan Gomes is about to make his 2016 postseason debut for Cleveland, and that could be interesting for the pitchers.
Bottom of 6th: Miller Dominates Cubs
Andrew Miller had pitched 13 2/3 innings in the post-season without giving up a run. He looked just as formidable in the bottom of the sixth. Fowler, Bryant and Rizzo all struck out swinging.
David Waldstein: I don’t understand exactly why people swing at Andrew Miller’s slider. It almost never ends up in the strike zone. It may look like it at first, but you end up swinging at a pitcher’s pitch out of the zone. If it comes out of his hand and you see slider — yes you, Anthony Rizzo — DO NOT SWING.
Strike three to Rizzo ended up in the right-handed batter’s box. What a bad dude.
Top of 6th: Edwards Handles Middle of Indians’ Order
The rookie Carl Edwards Jr. came in to pitch the top of the sixth for the Cubs for his World Series debut. He had no problem with Cleveland’s 4-5-6 hitters: Napoli grounded out, Ramirez popped up and Chisenhall struck out.
Bottom of 5th: Andrew Miller Takes the Mound
The Cubs got their second hit, when Jorge Soler lined a single to left on the first pitch of the inning. But they failed to break the stalemate. Baez and Russell grounded out, and then Manager Terry Francona decided that it was time for Andrew Miller, the mainstay of the Indians’ pen. Miller did not pitch in Game 2, and the expectation was that he would throw an extended session tonight. He got pinch-hitter Miguel Montero to fly out, ending the inning.
David Waldstein: Interesting move by Terry Francona to bring Andrew Miller into a tie game in the fifth. He double-switched him into the leadoff spot and took out Carlos Santana, who was starting his first game in left field. Rajai Davis took over in left field.
Well, it’s all about the bullpens now. When will we see Kyle Schwarber?
Top of 5th: Cubs Get Out of Huge Jam
The frustration continued for the Indians, who loaded the bases with one out and still could not get on the scoreboard. Naquin popped a single to left to start it off. After pitcher Tomlin bunted him over, Santana walked and Kipnis was hit by a pitch. Joe Maddon decided it was time to go to the pen, and Hendricks departed having surrendered six hits in 4 1/3 innings, but with no runs and six strikeouts. That brought on Justin Grimm, who gave up two runs in an inning in his previous Series appearance in Game 1. Maddon’s call was vindicated when Lindor grounded into a double play. Six hits and two walks for Cleveland, but still no runs.
David Waldstein: Masterful managing, relief pitching and defense by the Cubs to get out of a bases-loaded jam. Hendricks walked Santana and then hit Kipnis with his 85th pitch to load the bases, so Joe Maddon was not going to take any chances. This is not the regular season, right?
Maddon removed Hendricks with Lindor (2 for 2 heading into the at-bat) coming to the plate, and brought in Justin Grimm. Grimm throws a lot harder than Hendricks, but it was a full-count curveball that did the trick. Lindor, who started the at-bat behind 0-2, hit a ground ball that the Cubs turned into a double play, Baez to Russell to Rizzo.
So, we are into the Cubs bullpen already, and Andrew Miller is warming in the Indians bullpen.
Bottom of 4th: Tomlin Still in Control
Tomlin was unremarkable in the regular season, but he excelled in his first two post-season starts and has continued that through four innings tonight. Bryant drew a leadoff walk on a pitch that looked like a strike. But no harm was done, as Rizzo popped up to the catcher, Zobrist grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Contreras flew out. Still just one hit for the Cubs.
Top of 4th: Hendricks Gets Out of Trouble
Lindor punched a grounder in the right spot between first and second, and again the Indians had a man on. Napoli struck out looking with the help of Umpire John Hirschbeck’s generous strike zone, before Ramirez got his second hit of the game, putting men at first and second. But yet again the Tribe could not put anything on the scoreboard. Chisenhall grounded out, and Perez stuck out.
Bottom of 3rd: Cubs Go Down, 1-2-3
Russell grounded out. Hendricks grounded out. Fowler lined out to right. Not much punch from the Cubs, who have just one hit through three innings.
David Waldstein: Josh Tomlin is looking sharp through three innings. Tomlin is a control pitcher who is known for getting fly balls, but he has actually induced a higher rate of ground balls lately by using his curveball more, according to FanGraphs. The website also noted that he led the American League in strike rate and had baseball’s best walk rate among qualifying pitchers. He throws the ball over the plate.
Kyle Hendricks is very similar. He is known as the Professor because he went to Dartmouth. Apparently, in baseball, that is the equivalent of being an M.I.T. advanced astrophysicist. He has a real cool demeanor and does not overpower anyone. Neither pitcher will get too worked up about anything, and they both rely on control and movement.
Tonight, Hendricks’s changeup is a swing-and-miss pitch. He got Kipnis on a nasty one and Tomlin, too. Tomlin is actually a decent hitter.
Top of 3rd: Indians Getting on Base, but Can’t Convert
Tyler Naquin stung a 3-2 pitch to short, but Addison Russell made the diving catch. That brought up the Indians’ best hitter, Josh Tomlin. Yes, Tomlin was a career .500 hitter, though with a small sample size, 6-for-12. But he struck out this time. Leadoff man Santana worked a two-out walk, and the Indians had a base runner for the third consecutive inning. But they also failed to score for the third consecutive inning when Kipnis struck out.
David Waldstein: A funny moment after the top of the third: Before Addison Russell walked to the plate, the home plate umpire John Hirschbeck went to the mound and started looking at the ball with Josh Tomlin. It did not appear to be anything nefarious, though. In fact, Hirschbeck may have been deliberately delaying the game so that Indians first baseman Mike Napoli could take care of something in the dugout. Napoli was late getting to his position.
At one point, Francisco Lindor trotted in from shortstop, and Hirschbeck put up his hand and told him to stop, which Lindor did dutifully, pausing and putting his hands behind his back. Then Hirschbeck smiled and waved him in to the mound confab.
Hirschbeck is known for having a very large strike zone and calling tons of strikes. But some pitchers feel that in the last year or two, he has tightened up to compensate for his reputation.
Bottom of 2nd: Tomlin Gets Out of Trouble
For the first time since Harry Truman was president, the Cubs got a hit in the World Series at Wrigley Field, a ground single up the middle by Ben Zobrist. He advanced to second on a groundout by Willson Contreras. But Jorge Soler whiffed and Javier Baez popped up. No score through two innings.
David Waldstein: This is Ben Zobrist’s 50th postseason game and his 12th World Series game. With his single in the second inning, he is now 6 for 9 in the first three games of this World Series and is the only player other than Babe Ruth to have three hits in Game 1 of consecutive World Series. He went 6 for 23 over all in last year’s World Series against the Mets, with four doubles and five runs scored. I have always thought he was a winning player, beginning with his days in Tampa Bay. He always seemed to have the big hit against the New York teams, anyway.
Top of 2nd: Hendricks Keeps Indians in Check
The Indians started the second with another infield hit, as Jose Ramirez stung a ball that caromed off Rizzo and Baez. Then he nearly got picked off as well. Hendricks was clearly paying a lot of attention to the base runners in the early going. Lonnie Chisenhall hit into a fielder’s choice, and Roberto Perez, who improbably has the only two home runs of the series so far, grounded into a double play.
David Waldstein: Roger Johnson, the son of Cubs second baseman Don Johnson, who played in the Cubs’ last World Series in 1945, is at the game in the left field bleachers with his grandson. Johnson was wearing his father’s National League pennant ring, which he showed me, and it looked legit. It was small, with one tiny diamond at the top, and the word Cubs was kind of rubbed out.
Don Johnson went 5 for 29 in the ’45 World Series with two doubles and a triple. He played with the Cubs from 1943-48. His father was Ernie Johnson (Roger’s grandfather), a utility infielder who played with Babe Ruth on the Yankees from 1923-25. Roger Johnson, who is from Laguna Beach, Calif., said he has two checks that his father wrote to Ruth for $1,500 for a loan. Apparently the Babe borrowed money from his teammates.
Bottom of 1st: Nothing From Cubs
For the first time since Perry Como was No. 1 with “Till the End of Time,” the Cubs batted in a World Series game at Wrigley Field. Dexter Fowler grounded out. Kris Bryant hit a fly to left that was more interesting than usual, because Carlos Santana was playing there; normally a DH, he has never started a game in the outfield. He handled it fine. And Anthony Rizzo grounded out. No threat at all from the Cubs in the first inning.
Top of 1st: Indians Threaten, but Come Up Short
The first World Series game at Wrigley Field since two months after VJ Day began with a called strike against Carlos Santana. Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks completed the strikeout to the delight of the frenzied Cubs crowd. Jason Kipnis hit a little dribbler down the right side that landed in just the wrong spot for the Cubs, and he beat it out. Francisco Lindor stroked a single to left, and the Indians had two men on. But the threatening situation fizzled when Lindor was picked off first after a replay overturned the initial safe call and Mike Napoli struck out swinging.
David Waldstein: Terrible play by Francisco Lindor to get picked off there. The Indians were ready for a big inning with first and third and one out. If they could have scored it would have played into their formula of taking early leads and then locking them down. But instead, they get nothing and the Cubs fans have a moment to amp up their cheering.
The conditions here at Wrigley are gorgeous. Wind is blowing out from home plate to left field. If anyone gets the ball up into that jet stream, it could carry a long way.
Miller’s Wipeout Slider
Indians pitcher Andrew Miller is one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. Accordingly, he wields one of baseball’s most dominant pitches — a wicked slider that is nearly unhittable. Here’s a frame-by-frame breakdown of Miller’s go-to pitch.
Source: New York Times