Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Indians Smash Cubs Behind Kluber and Pen

CLE leads 1-0 

The Cleveland Indians know full well that they are the underdog to the Chicago Cubs in this World Series. They don't care either.

The Indians dominated the Cubs 6-0 in Game 1 of the 2016 World Series in a game that wasn't even that close. The Indians are for real, and if you have missed most of this postseason with them, you're in for a surprise. If you have seen the Indians in their series wins over Texas and Toronto, you would know this team is ready to kick some serious tail.

Over nine innings, the Cubs had only one real glimmer of hope, in the top of the seventh inning when they loaded the bases against Indians reliever Andrew Miller. Miller, who gutted out two incredible innings with 46 pitches under his belt, got out of the pickle when he jammed Wilson Contreras on a fly out, and struck out both Addison Russell and David Ross to get out of the inning.

Miller's two innings of brilliance was another pelt on the wall for a man who has etched his name in postseason history already. He has yet to give up a run over 13.2 innings of work this postseason, and he was on top of his game on Tuesday night, as he preserved the lead for starter Corey Kluber.

Kluber was equally great. He held the Cubs to just four hits over six innings, while striking out nine batters, and continued his dominate postseason in 2016. In four starts, Kluber is 3-1 with a 0.74 ERA in 24.1 innings. He has struck out 29 and walked only seven. The nine K's over six innings set a Cleveland Indians record for a World Series game.  Combined, Kluber, Miller and closer Cody Allen struck out 15 batters, which was two shy of a World Series record.

Offensivley the Indians took the early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fist thanks in big part to their young star Francisco Lindor. Lindor singled, stole second base and scored on a infield single by Jose Ramirez to make it 1-0. Lindor and Ramirez were huge in the win, with both hitters going 3-for-4 on the night.

Yet, this night will probably be best remembered for the heroics of Roberto Perez, the forgotten one in the Indians lineup. For a team that hit 184 home runs this year, Perez hit only three homers in the regular season. His .185 batting average not withstanding, nobody expected this guy to do any damage offensively in this series.

Again, that is why baseball is a beautiful game. Not only did Perez catch a brilliant game behind the plate, he had the two biggest hits of his entire career in one game on the biggest of stages.  Perez cracked two home runs, including a 3-run bomb in the eighth inning that helped push the Tribe to a 6-0 advantage.

With the 1-0 series lead the edge now goes to Cleveland. Teams that take a 1-0 lead in the World Series win that series 64.5 percent of the time. Teams that take that 1-0 lead at home win it 68.8 percent of the time, according to CBS Sports. The last team to comeback and win a World Series after dropping Game 1 as the road team was the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992. The Indians have now recorded four shutouts this postseason, which ties them with the San Francisco Giants (2010, and 2012), the 1998 Yankees and the 1905 New York Giants. All those teams won the World Series in those respective seasons. While all the talk has been about the Cubs this October, the Indians have quietly gone about their business and now hold an 8-1 record this postseason. The Cubs are 7-5.

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