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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.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.