It’s been 71 years since the Chicago Cubs sniffed the World Series and they came out flat against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The stadium was amped up from the start and it seemed to rub off on Indians starter Corey Kluber and the starting lineup.
Even a returning Kyle Schwarber who hasn’t played a game since the third game of the series couldn’t save the Cubs on this night.
Jon Lester took the ball for the Cubs for game 1 and struggled most of the night. Walking guys, giving up hits and getting his team in a 2-0 deficit after the first inning. This wasn’t your usual dominant Lester that we’ve seen this year or in his career in the playoff and World Series.
Kluber on the other hand was dominant, getting strikeouts on 8 of the first 9 outs that he retired. That strikeout performance was the first time that has ever happened in World Series history. “ It’s almost like you have that extra level of intensity,” Kluber stated.
The Cubs did manage a few scattered hits here and there off Kluber but it was the strikeouts that killed them. Schwarber who was in the lineup at DH and batting 5th gave the Cubs a needed spark as he doubled in the top of the 4th but the Cubs bats couldn’t muster anything.
“I’m confident. I know our guys are, too,” Schwarber stated. “We put up good at bats against those guys today. We just didn’t come up with a knock when we needed to.”
Lester pitched much better after the first inning but in the Indians half of the fourth, he gave up a Roberto Perez home run that gave the home team a 3-0 lead. Lester only lasted 5 2/3 innings as the bullpen looked to keep the Cubs within striking distance. That unfortunately didn’t happen either as Hector Rondon gave up a 404 foot three run home run to Perez to put the game out of reach.
The Cubs only shot of the evening came in their half of the 7th as they ran Kluber from the game with a leadoff single by Ben Zobrist. All everything reliever Andrew Miller was summoned upon to mow down the Cubs hitters. The next hitter was Schwarber and he forced a walk. Next up, Javier Baez singled to shallow left field loading the bases with no one out. This is where Miller hunkered down and got Willson Contreras to fly out to shallow center and then got back to back strikeouts of Addison Russell and David Ross to end the Cubs threat.
The Cubs look to rebound from the game 1 loss as former Cy Young Winner Jake Arietta will take the mound in a matchup against Trevor Bauer. Bauer though had to come out of his last start early on when he opened up a wound on his pitching hand. That situation will be monitored throughout for Bauer and the Indians.
This is just one game in a seven game series so losing one on the road isn’t something to freak out about. Take Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s advice, “It’s the first game, I’m fine. We’re fine.” Sometimes when you go against a pitcher as locked in as Kluber was and in an atmosphere as electric as Progressive Field was you may have a down game. The offense is bound to start hitting and the team showed signs of it in game 1. Make the pitchers pitch and take the bat off your shoulder when down in the count. Now on to game 2!