Friday’s game put the Cubs’ and Indians’ defense front and center, but on Saturday night, it was all about the offense. The Indians swept through Game 4 for a 7-2 finish, boosting their lead to 3-1 in the series and bringing them to the verge of a championship title should they clinch Game 5 on Sunday evening.
Anthony Rizzo struck first in the bottom of the first inning, lining a base hit into center field to score Dexter Fowler for the Cubs’ first World Series run at Wrigley Field since 1945. (Most of what occurred during Game 4 broke some 71-year-old record, including the first pitcher RBI, the first lead change, and the first home run since the Cubs hosted the World Series in ‘45.) The Indians responded in the second inning with a Carlos Santana home run, quickly followed by RBI singles from Kluber and Francisco Lindor to anchor the Indians’ 3-1 lead.
Cubs’ right-hander John Lackey, who hadn’t seen a World Series win since 2013, started strong out of the gate in his third postseason start of 2016. He went to his fastball 11 times in the first inning, battling through long at-bats against Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor to register his first two strikeouts of the night. The Indians were quick to capitalize on his straightforward approach, however, and Santana’s leadoff home run in the second sparked a rally that snowballed into a three-run lead. Lackey was forced from the game by the sixth inning, leaving Joe Maddon’s bullpen to clean things up in the last four frames of the game.
Kluber, meanwhile, recovered from his first-inning jitters and returned to shut out the Cubs over the next five innings. The Cubs got a walk and a run off the right-hander, who struck out six batters and closed out his fifth postseason appearance with 81 pitches, the lowest pitch count of any postseason start he’s made to date.
Things didn’t go much better for the Cubs once both starters were out of the game. Jason Kipnis barreled a 403-foot homer off of Travis Wood in the seventh, while Dexter Fowler made Andrew Miller look almost human with a 374-footer of his own in the eighth. A five-run deficit is a difficult thing to come back from, though, and the Cubs’ ninth inning rally quickly fizzled out with a game-ending Javier Baez groundout.
Sunday will see the Indians return to Wrigley Field for one final appearance, with Trevor Bauer going up against Cubs’ left-hander Jon Lester at 8 PM EDT. If the Cubs have any chance of breaking their 108-year curse, they’ll have to take it tomorrow.