On a blustery night in the Windy City, one where 14 m.p.h. winds (and Carlos Santana) all but guaranteed base hits in left-center field, the Cubs and Indians had themselves a pitcher’s duel.
It was a combined effort for the Indians, who cycled through four pitchers to take their second win of the series, 1-0. Josh Tomlin opened with 4 2/3 scoreless frames, working up to a full count just twice in 17 batters faced and keeping the ball low with eight ground outs.
Andrew Miller picked up the end of the fifth inning, inducing a lineout from Miguel Montero before returning in the sixth to strike out the side on 17 pitches. For those keeping score at home, that’s 15 innings Miller has pitched in the 2016 postseason, eclipsing Goose Gossage’s 14 1/3 innings in the 1981 playoffs for most innings pitched by a reliever in a single postseason (per MLB Stat of the Day). According to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Miller’s three strikeouts also brought his 2016 postseason total to 27 whiffs, just shy of the 28-strikeout mark left by Francisco Rodriguez in 2002.
Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen tag-teamed to finish off the last three frames of the game. Both relievers faced major threats from the Cubs, with a Jorge Soler triple in the seventh and runners at the corners in the ninth — and, coincidentally, both relievers silenced Javier Baez at the plate to preserve their one-run lead.
The Cubs worked their pitching staff against the Indians, too, calling on six different hurlers to keep the game scoreless through 6 1/3 innings. Kyle Hendricks looked sharp through the first 4 1/3 frames, striking out six batters and executing a flawless pick-off throw to catch Francisco Lindor off the first base bag in the first inning. While Joe Maddon’s bullpen put up a good fight, right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. hit a snag in the seventh inning, losing the shutout to pinch-hitter Coco Crisp on a 92.1-m.p.h. fastball-turned-RBI-single.
One run was all the Indians needed for a lead and their first World Series win at Wrigley Field. Even Kyle Schwarber couldn’t solve their pitching staff, entering for one at-bat in the eighth and popping out to Lindor on a 2-1 count against Shaw and his arsenal of cutters high in the zone.
Surprisingly, the team’s two biggest concerns heading into Friday’s game — the wind and Carlos Santana — were non-issues. Santana cleanly (one might even say smoothly) fielded the only fly ball in his direction in the first inning, while Tomlin and the rest of the Indians’ crew almost exclusively kept the balls to the infield.
The Cubs will try to even the series again on Saturday evening at 8 PM EDT. They’ll send out right-hander John Lackey against Indians’ Corey Kluber, who will be pitching on short rest after his Game 1 start on Tuesday. Could this finally be the Cubs’ first World Series win at Wrigley Field since 1945? If not, it’ll put the Indians on the brink of a championship title, with the opportunity to clinch the whole dang thing on Sunday night.