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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.

Astros defend barring reporter from clubhouse

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As we wrote about this morning, last night the Houston Astros, at the request of Justin Verlander, barred Detroit Free Press reporter Anthony Fenech from the clubhouse during Verlander’s media availability following the Tigers-Astros game. After Verlander was done talking to the press in the scrum setting — and after a call was placed to Major League Baseball about the matter — Fenech was allowed in.

As we noted, this was done in violation of agreements to which Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and the Baseball Writers Association of America are parties. The agreements are meant to ensure full access to BBWAA-accredited reporters as long as they have not violated the terms of their credentials.  In no case do the clubs — and certainly not the players — have the right to bar access to BBWAA-accredited reporters. Indeed, the whole point of the BBWAA is to ensure such access and to ensure that teams cannot bar them simply because they are unhappy with their coverage or what have you.

This morning Verlander tweeted, obliquely, about “unethical behavior” on the part of Fenech that led to his request to the Astros to bar him. As we noted at the time, such an allegation — however interesting it might be — is of no consequence to the admission or barring of a reporter. If Fenech has acted unethically it’s a matter between him and his employer and, potentially, between him and the BBWAA. At the very least, if Verlander has a specific concern, it would be incumbent upon him or the Astros to take the matter up with either the Free Press or the BBWAA.

In light of all of this, it’s hard to make a case for Verlander’s request and the Astros’ honoring it. A few moments ago, however, the Astros released as statement on the matter which, basically, says, “so what?”

Which is to say, the Astros have made a decades-long agreement between the BBWAA and MLB regarding reporter access optional, because a player does not like a reporter who is covering him.  Someone without the power to alter the BBWAA-MLB relationship has just done so unilaterally. And they have done so in such a way that any player, should they decide they don’t like a reporter, will now presumably rely on as precedent. And, it should be noted, in doing so they gave at least some tacit credence to Verlander’s thus far unsubstantiated and unspecified allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Fenech.

It’s your move, Major League Baseball and BBWAA. Whatcha gonna do about it?