Getty Images

Indians shut out the Cubs 1-0 in Game 3 of the World Series

43 Comments

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.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

Astros
AP Images
20 Comments

Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.