On a crisp night in Cleveland, Corey Kluber dominated the Chicago offense and propelled the Indians to a victory in Game 1 of the World Series.
Pitching: Kluber was every bit of the Cy Young caliber pitcher that he had been througout the 2016 season. Kluber struck out eight over the first three innings, a feat that had never been accomplished in the postseason. Kluber used a running two-seam fastball, a nasty slider (as described by Cubs catcher David Ross to Mike Napoli after a single) and a change-up. Kluber pitched into the 7th inning but only faced one batter in the frame, surrendering a leadoff single to Ben Zobrist. Francona lifted Kluber, having only 88 pitches. Kluber’s final line was 6ip, 4h, 0er and 9k’s.
Andrew Miller replaced Kluber, with Zobrist on first, and walked Cubs DH Kyle Schwarber. Javier Baez followed Schwarber with a single to left, loading the bases with no outs. Miller got pinch-hitter Wilson Contreras to fly out to shallow center and proceeded to strike out Addison Russell and David Ross.
Miller ran into trouble again in the 8th when he walked Kris Bryant and allowed a hit to Ben Zobrist. But with two outs and runners on first and third, Miller got Kyle Schwarber swinging to retire the side. Miller was not very sharp, but managed to survive two innings without giving up a run. Miller threw 46 pitches over the two innings, and I have to think that the Cubs will make some adjustments and have get to Miller at some point in the Series.
Cody Allen slammed the door shut in the 9th by striking out the side. Allen got Javier Baez looking on an 0-2 curve, Russell swinging on a 1-2 fastball and ended the game by striking out Miguel Montero on a 2-2 fastball.
Jon Lester was just okay tonight, often seeming frustrated with the strike zone of home plate umpire Larry Vanover. Lester didn’t make it out of the 6th, and surrendered 6h, 3bb’s leading to 3er. He was tagged by Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez for a solo shot in the 4th. Lindor stole a bag off of Lester in the first, which may have led to more frustration throughout the game.
The Cubs ‘pen had a dismal evening, giving up 3er in 2.1 innings. Justin Grimm and Hector Rondon (who also gave up a homer to Perez) were ineffective. The Cubs pen will need to rebound in a big way tonight if the Cubs want to avoid going back to Chicago in a 2-0 hole.
Offense: The Indians were led by their ninth hitter in the line-up, Roberto Perez, with two HR’s and 4 RBI’s. Perez has three home runs this postseason, matching his season total for 2016. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor were also impressive, each collecting three hits.
For the Cubs, Ben Zobrist was the lone bright spot, collecting three hits on the evening. Two of those hits came off of Kluber, including the hit that knocked the Cleveland ace out of the game.
In his first game back since April 7th, Kyle Schwarber laced a double off of Kluber. The FOX broadcast noted that Schwarber is the first position player to record his first hit of the season in the World Series (Schwarber was 0 for 4 before getting injured earlier this season).