By Andrew Kahn
The Cubs waited 71 years to get to the World Series. They’ll have to wait at least one more day to score a run on the sport’s biggest stage. Corey Kluber was dominant, the Indians’ relievers shut the door, and Cleveland beat the Cubs 6-0 at home in Game 1 of the World Series. Here is what you need to know before tonight’s second game.
Kluber set a World Series record with eight strikeouts through the first three innings. He came out after giving up a lead-off single in the seventh, finishing with nine strikeouts, four hits, and no walks. Three of his outs were pop-ups to the catcher. Amazingly, after the game Kluber said he didn’t have a good feel for his breaking stuff. When the Cubs weren’t swinging and missing, they were taking strikes. Kluber got a whopping 24 called strikes last night. He threw 88 pitches and will likely get the ball on short rest in Game 4.
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2) Cleveland’s young bats
The three youngest players in the Indians lineup—Francisco Lindor (22), Jose Ramirez (24), and Roberto Perez (27)—keyed the offense against Jon Lester and the Cubs bullpen. Perez, who hit just .183 with three homers in 153 regular season at-bats, joined Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome as the only Indians with a multi-homer game in the playoffs. He took Lester deep in the fourth, inching one over the wall in left, then hammered a hanging breaking ball from Hector Rondon for a three-run blast in the eighth. Lindor notched a two-out hit in the first and stole second before scoring the game’s first run. He singled again in the third and may have been safe stealing again (but was called out); he doubled for his third hit in the seventh. Ramirez also had three hits, including a double.
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3) Regular reliever rotation
In many instances, Terry Francona’s decision to pull Kluber when he did could easily have been second-guessed. But given that Francona would like to bring him back on short rest and the Cleveland bullpen is exceptional, the move made sense. Andrew Miller, the ALCS MVP, walked the first batter he faced and gave up a single to the next, loading the bases with no outs. He then induced a shallow fly to center and struck out the next two Cubs to escape the jam. Miller allowed two baserunners in the eighth but recorded another big strikeout to end the threat. Cody Allen struck out three of the four batters he faced in the ninth. The positives for the Cubs? They got to see Cleveland’s two best relievers and reached base five times. Plus, Miller threw 50 pitches. He may not be human, but if he is, his availability could be in doubt tonight.
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4) Schwarber’s surprise return
Kyle Schwarber became the first player to get his first hit of the season in the World Series. He’d been sidelined since playing just two games in April before tearing his knee. After striking out in his first plate appearance, he almost hit a dinger on the first pitch of his second. He settled for a double that went halfway up the wall. It was a curious decision to put him on the roster, start him in Game 1, and bat him fifth. Then again, the 23-year-old is the Cubs’ all-time leader in postseason home runs (he hit five last season as a rookie). He looked fine Tuesday, displaying a good eye at the plate (he walked once). He won’t be available when the series shifts to Wrigley, as he can’t play the field. The other interesting roster move for the Cubs was to sit the slumping Jason Heyward; Chris Coghlan took his place and struck out in his two plate appearances.
5) First time for everything
Of the six umpires on the field last night, four were working their first Fall Classic, including Larry Vanover, who took some flak for his calls behind the plate last night. The World Series had three first-timers last year and four in 2014, when an Associated Press story noted that playoff umps were selected based on several factors, including ball-strike ratings, experience, and how their calls held up to replay. For comparison sake, four of the seven refs on the field in the most recent Super Bowl were there for the first time. Some other tidbits of note: There has been a lot of talk about the ceremonial first pitches in this series, but the first real pitch was, surprisingly, not taken out of play. The next pitch was fouled down the line. With the Game 1 win, the Indians improved to 58-28 at home this season, including a 5-0 mark in the playoffs. The NBA’s Cavaliers raised their championship banner next door just before the baseball game started. Tonight’s game will start an hour earlier than originally scheduled, at 7:08 ET, due to expected rain. Jake Arrieta will face drone enthusiast Trevor Bauer.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about baseball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn