Random observations from Game One

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Matthew’s live chat and Bob’s recap covered almost all you want to read about last night’s NLCS, but given that I watched the thing and my wife doesn’t like talking about baseball, I figured I was as share my observations as well:

We’ve taken your National League division champions and secretly
replaced them with the Red Sox and Yankees! Let’s see if anyone
notices! Four hours+. Lots of homers. Not my kind of game, but I
suppose the Phillies will take it.

As I said in my preview, I had thought that Kershaw would come out sharp and Hamels not so much.  Guess I was only half right. Both starters
struggled, with such struggles aided by what looked to my untrained eye
as a really poor effort by home plate umpire Randy Marsh. Kershaw later
said that he “failed to make adjustments” throughout the night. It
wasn’t the lack of adjustments to Phillies hitters that seemed to be
the problem, though. It was the adjustments he tried to make to Marsh
not giving him anything low in the strike zone.

But this can by no means be blamed on Marsh. You get lots of tough zones from umps throughout the season, and you just have to work with it.  Kershaw didn’t: he turned to
overthrowing and seemed to get frustrated. More experienced pitchers
would have probably stayed with their game and kept trying to drop that
backdoor pitch down low until Marsh finally started calling it. If he
did call it: great. If not? Well, at least you’re not getting shelled
for five runs and throwing three wild pitches like Kershaw did.

But even if the game didn’t turn on the umps. It did turn on the
strike zone. As in George Sherill’s inability to find it
against Howard and Werth in the eighth. After those walks, the fastball he threw to Ibanez
was an obvious get-me-over pitch, and Ibanez just stroked it. If Sherill wasn’t having control problems, there would be more life on that pitch, I suspect, because lefties just tend not to connect against him like that.

In light of last night, Game 2 brings a great chance to make Torre look
like the goat of the NLCS. The youngin’ in which he placed his trust
for Game 1 got beat up. If the lighting-in-a-bottle veteran he has tapped for Game 2 — Padilla —
reverts to Padillistic form, the story of the offday will be how L.A.
managed to all but lose the NLCS without Randy Wolf, Kuroda or
Billinglsey — the
dudes who staked them to a big lead back in the spring — ever throwing a pitch.

I’m not saying
it’s a fair storyline — I liked the Kershaw call — but it’ll be out

Video: Jonathan Lucroy who? Roberto Perez homers twice in World Series opener for the Indians

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Roberto Perez #55 of the Cleveland Indians hits a three-run home run during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
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Back in July, then-Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy vetoed a trade that would have sent him to the Indians, helping the club make a significant upgrade behind the plate after losing Yan Gomes to an injury. At the time, Roberto Perez had only played in 11 games, batting .043. Gomes had hit .165 before his injury, and Chris Gimenez batted .202 over 42 games. It was not much of a logical leap to think the Indians would eventually falter due to a lack of production at the catching position.

But here the Indians are in the World Series facing the Cubs. In Game 1 on Tuesday night, Perez — who finished the season with a .183 average and three home runs in 184 plate appearances — drilled a pair of home runs, accounting for four of the six runs the Indians would score in a shutout win over the Cubs.

Perez’s first blast was a solo that that just cleared the left field fence at Progressive Field, coming on an 0-1 fastball from starter Jon Lester. That padded the Indians’ lead to 3-0.

The second homer put the game away, as he punished reliever Hector Rondon for hanging a 2-2 slider with two runners on base, slugging this one enough to clear the left field fence by plenty. That doubled the Indians’ lead to 6-0, the score by which they would eventually win.

Perez is the first catcher to homer twice in a World Series game since Gary Carter did it for the Mets against the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. Perez is the first Indian to homer twice in the same playoff game since Jim Thome in the 1999 ALDS against the Red Sox.

Corey Kluber dazzles as Indians blank Cubs 6-0 in Game 1 of the World Series

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

From the moment Kris Bryant struck out looking for the second out of the first inning in Game 1 of the World Series, the Cubs knew Indians starter Corey Kluber brought his A-game and that they were in for a long night. Bryant was Kluber’s second strikeout victim in as many batters and he would go on to strike out eight batters through the first three innings, setting a World Series record.

The Indians, meanwhile, gave Kluber an early cushion, scoring twice in the bottom of the first inning. Francisco Lindor hit a two-out single, then stole second base against starter Jon Lester. Lester proceeded to walk Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana to load the bases. Jose Ramirez brought one run home with an infield single to the left of the pitcher’s mound. The lefty then hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch to force in another run, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead.

The Indians scored one more run in the fourth inning when catcher Roberto Perez snuck a solo home run over the fence in left field, victimizing Lester yet again.

The Cubs struggled to get any kind of momentum going, wasting a leadoff double by Ben Zobrist in the second inning and a two-out double by Kyle Schwarber in the fourth. Through six innings, Kluber yielded only three hits with zero walks and nine strikeouts. He took the mound to start the seventh but departed after Zobrist led off with a single to left field.

Reliever and ALCS MVP Andrew Miller entered the game, but the Cubs seemed to have a better time against him. Schwarber drew a walk and Javier Baez singled to left, loading the bases. At the very least, it seemed, Miller would give up at least one run, if not two. The average team scored two runs with the bases loaded and no outs, according to Baseball Prospectus. But Miller showed why he was named the MVP of the ALCS, getting Willson Contreras to fly out to shallow center. Schwarber thought the ball would drop, so he was way off the second base bag, but center fielder Rajai Davis didn’t notice and fired home to ensure a run didn’t score. Despite the mistake, Miller rebounded by striking out Addison Russell and David Ross to escape the inning with no damage done

Miller returned to the mound for the eighth inning for his second inning of work. After getting Dexter Fowler to fly out, he walked Bryant. Miller got Anthony Rizzo to fly out to shallow center, but Zobrist singled to center to put runners on first and third with two outs. On his 46th pitch of the night, Miller struck out Schwarber to escape the inning.

Perez decided to double the Indians’ lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the eighth. Cubs reliever Justin Grimm walked Guyer and allowed a single to Lonnie Chisenhall, forcing manager Joe Maddon to replace him with Hector Rondon. Rondon hung a 2-2 slider and Perez crushed it, this time clearing the fence by plenty for a three-run homer. He’s the first catcher with two homers in a World Series game since Gary Carter in 1986.

Closer Cody Allen, who thought he was going to be used in a save situation, took over in the top of the ninth. After striking out Baez, Contreras doubled to right field. Allen then struck out Russell as well as pinch-hitter Miguel Montero to end the game in a 6-0 victory for the Indians.

Game 2 of the World Series will start an hour earlier than usual on Wednesday due to forecasted inclement weather late at night. Jake Arrieta will make the start for the Cubs opposite the Indians’ Trevor Bauer.