Indians ace Corey Kluber was masterful in his first career World Series start, giving the Cubs no chance to beat him.
There are certain games in the postseason, particularly in the World Series, whose results seem scripted from the first pitch. I’m not trying to suggest that the postseason is rigged or anything fishy, of course; it’s more that some games have a feeling of inevitability about them. Baseball is a sport that, if nothing else, is wont to punish feelings of inevitability with wild upsets, but even here, there are those games that, in the third inning, make you sit back and say “Yeah, I think I see where this one is going.”
Did the Indians ride Andrew Miller too hard? Did the Cubs use the right hitters? Game 1 offered plenty of chances to second-guess.
There was a wealth of strategic intrigue surrounding Game 1 of the World Series before it even began. Jon Lester started for the Cubs, so there was the now-familiar chatter about how the Indians planned to use his difficulty in controlling the running (if it can even be fairly called that) against him. Kyle Schwarber returned to the Cubs’ lineup after a sojourn of some six months, from an operating table to a grueling rehabilitation process to the Arizona Fall League, but there was some uncertainty as to how ready to return he really was, and where Joe Maddon could place him in his lineup in order to maximize Schwarber’s impact.
It’s finally here! The World Series kicks off tonight with Game 1, and two long-storied franchises with histories of futility and new-school front offices will face off. There’s narrative aplenty here--if you want more on that, check out Aaron Gleeman’s overall, seven-game series preview, breaking things down from every angle--but now it’s time to talk up the primary actors for Game 1. That starts with the two ace starting pitchers: Corey Kluber and Jon Lester.
In one corner, the immovable object that is the Chicago Cubs’ 108-year championship drought. In the other corner, the unstoppable force that is the Cleveland Indians’ 68-year title-less streak. Something’s got to give!
It took Theo Epstein and company exactly five years to rebuild the Cubs into the best team in baseball.
On October 22, 2011, the Chicago Cubs announced the hiring of Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations. Epstein, only 37 years old at the time, was already considered one of the greatest baseball executives in recent history and a potential future Hall of Famer. Five days later, the Cubs hired away Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod from San Diego as Epstein’s top lieutenants.
Clayton Kershaw threw seven shutout, two-hit innings against the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS, which combined with his starter/closer act in the NLDS convinced even the most stubborn holdouts that his poor postseason reputation was overblown and perhaps just flat out erased. And now, less than a week later, he'll take the mound at Wrigley Field against a 103-win team with the Dodgers' season on the line in an elimination game. Something tells me Kershaw's playoff rep isn't set in stone quite yet.
Chicago breaks through against Los Angeles' bullpen, taking a 3-2 lead back to Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have had a not-so-quiet concern this postseason, an unsure refrain that has been repeated by analysts, fans, and (we can only assume) the team itself, an anxiety to characterize the flipside of baseball’s best regular-season team--namely, what if they can’t hit good pitching?
The Cubs finally broke out of their offensive mini-slump last night, putting up 10 runs against the Dodgers and evening the series at two games apiece. That means this isn’t an elimination game, so there’s no need to consider starting anyone on short rest to save the season. Jon Lester and Kenta Maeda will start in a repeat of the Game 1 pitching matchup.
Chicago finally broke through offensively, evening the NLCS at 2-2.
The Chicago Cubs, facing a potential 3-1 hole against a team with the best pitcher on the planet still in play for one more game, finally drew breath in Los Angeles. For 21 straight innings the Cubs' offense was suffocated by Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw, and the rest of the Dodgers' pitching staff. Then a few soft hits found holes before Addison Russell, who entered the game with a batting average that started with a zero, pierced through the Los Angeles marine layer and Dodgers pitching with one swing. The Cubs would follow with one run in the fifth and five more in the sixth, putting the game out of reach in the series’ first true laugher.