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Cubs slug their way past the Indians 9-3, forcing World Series Game 7

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Cubs shortstop Addison Russell decided to take things into his own hands to ensure that his team will play in a winner-take-all Game 7 of the World Series. After Kris Bryant hit a solo home run to open the scoring in the bottom of the first inning of Tuesday evening’s Game 6, Russell hit a two-run double — really, a miscommunication between center fielder Tyler Naquin and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall — off of starter Josh Tomlin in the first inning, knocking in Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist to push the Cubs’ lead to 3-0. Russell padded the lead to 7-0 in the third inning by blasting a grand slam to center field against reliever Dan Otero, shortly after Tomlin departed. With six RBI, Russell tied a single-game World Series record.

Starter Jake Arrieta wasn’t unhittable, but he had more than enough cushion to pitch comfortably through 5 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on three hits and three walks with nine strikeouts on 102 pitches. The Indians pecked away for a run in the fourth inning on a Mike Napoli RBI single and again in the fifth on a Jason Kipnis opposite-field solo home run, cutting the margin to 7-2.

Arrieta exited the game after issuing a walk to Chisenhall with two outs in the sixth. Lefty Mike Montgomery entered to face Coco Crisp, which prompted Indians manager Terry Francona to counter by pinch-hitting with Brandon Guyer. On Montgomery’s first pitch, Guyer grounded into a fielder’s choice to shortstop to end the inning.

Montgomery stayed in the game but issued a one-out walk and then allowed a two-out single, so Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to bring in closer Aroldis Chapman to put out the fire. Lindor hit a grounder to Rizzo at first base but Chapman narrowly beat him to the bag. Lindor was originally called safe, but the play was quickly overturned upon replay review. Chapman appeared to hurt his leg on the play, but…

Chapman remained in the game for the eighth, bad leg and all. He struck out Napoli, but then gave up a single to center off the bat of Jose Ramirez. Chapman was able to end the inning, though, inducing a 6-4-3 double play from Yan Gomes. An important piece of data to note: four outs on 15 pitches.

After Kris Bryant singled with tow outs in the top of the ninth, Anthony Rizzo put the game even more out of reach with a two-run home runoff of Mike Clevinger, boosting the Cubs’ lead to 9-2.

Chapman, somewhat inexplicably, took the mound again for the bottom of the ninth inning. He issued a leadoff walk to Guyer, ending his evening at 20 pitches. Pedro Strop came in and gave up an RBI single to right field by Roberto Perez. Perez, however, was thrown out trying to take second base for the second out of the inning. Strop then walked Carlos Santana. Maddon came out to bring in lefty Travis Wood to face the lefty-hitting Kipnis. Kipnis feebly popped out to Russell in shallow left field near the foul line to end the game in a 9-3 victory for the Cubs.

The seventh and final game of the World Series will take place at 8 PM EDT on Wednesday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Kyle Hendricks will get the ball for the Cubs and Corey Kluber will make his third World Series start for the Indians.

Skaggs Case: Federal Agents have interviewed at least six current or former Angels players

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The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.

There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.

Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.

In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.