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Cubs ride big fourth inning, defeat Indians 3-2 to force Game 6 of the World Series


As has been the case throughout the World Series for the Cubs, runs were hard to come by, but they found just enough in Game 5 to eke past the Indians 3-2 to force the World Series back to Cleveland for Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7.

Jon Lester made the start for the Cubs and was sharp early, striking out the side in the first inning. Jose Ramirez blasted a solo homer to left field off of him in the second inning to give the Indians an early 1-0 lead, but the Cubs broke out in the fourth to give him some breathing room.

Facing starter Trevor Bauer, Kris Bryant led off the bottom of the fourth with a line drive home run to left-center, tying the game at one apiece. Anthony Rizzo followed up with a double to right field that was very nearly a home run. Ben Zobrist then singled to right field, pushing Rizzo to third base. Rizzo scored shortly thereafter on an Addison Russell infield single to the left side. After Jason Heyward struck out for the first run of the inning, Javier Baez laid down a perfect bunt to third baseman Jose Ramirez to load the bases. David Ross brought in the Cubs’ third run by lifting a sacrifice fly to left field.

Bauer went four innings, giving up three runs on six hits with on walks and seven strikeouts on 74 pitches.

The Indians closed the gap in the bottom of the sixth, as Rajai Davis singled to left field and then stole second base. After Jason Kipnis struck out for out number two, Francisco Lindor knocked Davis in with a single to center field, cutting the Cubs’ lead to 3-2.

Lester didn’t come back out to the mound for the seventh as he was double-switched out when Miguel Montero pinch-hit for Ross in the bottom of the sixth. Lester’s final line: 6 innings, four hits, two earned runs, no walks, and five strikeouts on 90 pitches.

Reliever Carl Edwards, Jr. got into a bit of trouble starting off the seventh, allowing a single to Mike Napoli, then letting him advance to second on a passed ball. Manager Joe Maddon decided to let his closer handle this sticky one-out situation, so Aroldis Chapman entered the game. He struck out Ramirez, hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch, and ended the inning by getting Roberto Perez to ground out.

Chapman remained in the game for the eighth. He fanned Yan Gomes, but then failed to cover first base on what should’ve been out number two, a ground ball to Rizzo at first base hit by Davis. Chapman, however, didn’t cover the bag, allowing Davis to reach safely. Davis promptly stole second base to put the tying run in scoring position. Kipnis fouled out to left field for the second out. Davis stole yet another base (his third of the night), jogging easily into third base on the first pitch to Lindor. Chapman was able to see himself out, though, by planting a slider on the outside corner for strike three and out three.

Shockingly, Maddon allowed Chapman to hit for himself in the bottom of the eighth with a runner on second base and two outs against Cody Allen. Heyward stole second base as the count went even on Chapman, but he then meekly waved at strike three to bring the game into the ninth.

Chapman, on for his third inning of work, got Napoli to ground out for the first out of the ninth. Carlos Santana popped out to right field for the second out. Finally, letting everyone at Wrigley Field exhale, Chapman got Ramirez to strike out to end the game. In his 2 2/3 innings, Chapman faced 10 batters, hitting one and allowing one hit while striking out four on 42 pitches.

The Cubs and Indians will take Monday off to travel. Game 6 of the World Series will take place at Progressive Field on Tuesday (November 1st!) at 8 PM EDT. Neither team has officially announced a starter yet.

No, the Astros aren’t being targeted for HBPs in spring training

Alex Bregman
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On Wednesday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was hit by Cardinals pitcher Ramon Santos. It marked the seventh time an Astros batter had been hit in spring training exhibition games thus far, the highest total among all teams. As expected, teams are exacting revenge for the Astros’ cheating ways!

Well, not quite. The pitch Santos hit Bregman with was a 3-2 breaking ball that got away. Usually, if a pitcher is going to hit a batter as an act of revenge, he’ll attempt to do it with a first-pitch fastball.

José Altuve was also hit by a pitch against the Tigers on Sunday. The pitch, which looks to be the off-speed variety, appeared to graze his uniform as opposed to hitting him flush, so it was likely unintentional on the part of pitcher Nick Ramirez.

Other Astros to have been hit in spring training thus far: Alex De Goti, Aledmys Díaz, Osvaldo Duarte, Dustin Garneau, and Jake Meyers. Not exactly a who’s-who list of Code Breaker operatives.

Will some pitchers intentionally throw at the Astros this year? Almost certainly, despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s warning. Have they been doing it from the moment exhibition games began earlier this month? Certainly not.