Last night Indians starter Corey Kluber devastated the Cubs lineup, mowing down batters with reckless abandon and setting a World Series strikeout record for the first three innings. Kluber, along with the rest of the Indians staff, treated runners in scoring position with a particular ferocity.
Cleveland pitching held Chicago to one of 10 with runners in scoring position, including seven strikeouts. That’s why the Cubs lost the game. Well, that and the fact that Indians catcher Roberto Perez launched two monster home runs on his way to joining Gary Carter, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, and Gene Tenace as the only catchers in MLB history to hit two home runs in a World Series game.
Cubs starter Jon Lester had a roller coaster of an outing. Lester needed only five pitches to record the first two outs of the game. He would throw more than twenty additional pitches before recording the final out of the 1st inning. Trouble started for Lester in the first, when Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor poked a single into center field. Then, Lindor took advantage of Lester’s near inability to check runners, and stole second.
This is a major issue for the Cubs going forward, since both Lester and Wednesday night’s starter Jake Arrieta have well noted issues keeping runners honest, a particularly large problem when facing a Cleveland line-up that has speedsters like Lindor, Rajai Davis, and others.
The Indians also won the contest of asset preservation. Corey Kluber went only six innings, and threw only 88 pitches before stepping aside for Andrew Miller. The relatively short start makes it so that Indians skipper Terry Francona possesses the option of pitching Kluber again in Game Four.
Things did get a bit dicey for the Tribe in the seventh inning. Kluber walked the lead-off man in the top of the seventh, resulting in Francona going to Andrew Miller, who has dominated the entire postseason up until this point. However, Miller came on and promptly walked Kyle Schwarber on his way to loading the bases, creating the major pucker factor moment for Indians fans. One swing of the bat and the Cubs could have erased the three-run lead they had so skillfully built.
Nevertheless, it just so happens that Andrew Miller has been the greatest pitcher in the world with the bases loaded over the last few years. Miller has only allowed one run in his last 12 bases-loaded situations. The run of good fortune continued as the Indians defense, minus a Rajai Davis throwing miscue that saved Schwarber from getting caught between second and third, assisted in getting Miller out of the inning without giving up a run.
Miller did look human, though, as he threw 46 pitches in only two innings, his largest single-game pitch count since he last started a game in 2011. Still, his run of postseason dominance continues. Miller has faced 78 batters, struck out 34 of them, and given up zero runs.
Wednesday night’s game moves to 7:08 p.m. EST due to the threat of rain. Look for starting pitchers Jake Arrieta for the Cubs and Trevor Bauer for the Indians, with the focus on Arrieta, since the Cubs lost Game One, and the team that has lost Game One has gone on to lose 12 out of the last 13 World Series.
No pressure though.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn