Thank you all so much for tuning in tonight. I hope you enjoyed our coverage at VAVEL USA. I'm Elijah Ackerman, signing off for the night -- and exactly at midnight! Cool! Keep following VAVEL USA for MLB coverage!
Anyway, this series continues to be fascinating. Game 2 tomorrow night starts at 7PM EST, an hour earlier than the original time -- Cleveland is supposed to be hit by rain later tomorrow night. It's Trevor Bauer against Jake Arrieta. The Cubs look to alter the balance of the Series and tie it up, but the Indians are poised to take a solid 2-0 lead.
Oh, and also, Corey Kluber was insane tonight. In 6+ innings, Kluber slid his sinker in and around the strikezone, painted the corners, and made the Cubs look silly. Kluber threw 26 called strikes tonight. 26! Andrew Miller picked it up in the seventh, and though he had to fight, he held the Cubs at bay before Perez delivered the final blow.
Roberto Perez is certainly the hero tonight. He ripped two hangers into left for two monstrous homers. Not to mention, Frankie Lindor and Jose Ramirez were phenomenal, putting up three hits apiece. Lindor started the first inning rally, and Ramirez drove him in on his RBI dribbler. After an RBI hit by pitch from Brandon Guyer, Roberto Perez was all the Indians' offense needed.
FINAL SCORE: INDIANS 6 CUBS 0
INDIANS LEAD SERIES 1-0
Fireworks are popping again, and the Indians, navy shirts, red gloves, and fluffy winter hats galore, celebrate on the field. The Indians lead the series 1-0.
Top 9th (2 outs): STRIKE 3 SWINGING!!! INDIANS WIN GAME 1!! Allen's fastball is waved at by Montero, and a 3 hour, 37 minute game comes to a close.
Top 9th (2 outs): 2-2 to Montero...Cleveland rises to its feet.
Top 9th (1 out): Russell goes down swinging. Progressive Field roars a little louder, and Miguel Montero comes in to pinch hit with two outs in the ninth.
Top 9th (1 out): Contreras bashes one to right, and it nearly gets over the wall. Lonnie leaps and can't grab it, and Davis picks it up and throws to the infield before Contreras can advance to third -- he made a little bat flip after the hit, and didn't fully hustle out of the box. Here's Russell.
Top 9th (no outs): Holy smokes. A knee-buckling curve bounces Baez back and lands right down the pipe. Strike three called. One down, two to go.
Top 9th (no outs): Javy Baez fouls two off in a row, and it's 0-2. Progressive Field is ecstatic right now.
The MLB Postseason is always one of unsung heroes -- we've seen a few of them so far in 2016. Roberto Perez joins the list tonight. One of the weaker hitters on the roster, Perez has been starting at catcher for his defense. Tonight, he called a wonderful shutout game (so far, at least), and has 2 homers and 4 RBIs. What a night.
Bottom 8th (2 outs): Kipnis grounds out after a Davis double (I missed that somehow, please forgive me), and on comes Allen to close it out.
So, um, this hasn't been fun for Rondon. One batter, and the game is now wide open. Indians closer Cody Allen is waiting in the bullpen. Even up 6-0, he's sure to come in for the ninth.
Bottom 8th (2 outs): WOW!!!!! Perez launches one to left for a 3-run homer!! It's his second home run tonight, and the Indians break Game 1 open. It's 6-0 Cleveland.
Before the Chapman trade, Rondon was Chicago's closer. He saved 18 games and finished the year with a 3.53 ERA.
Bottom 8th (2 outs): Chisenhall cracks a slice to left, and it's a base hit. First and second with two outs now, and here comes Hector Rondon to try and stop the bleeding.
Bottom 8th (2 outs): Guyer walks on six pitches. Chisenhall to the plate.
Bottom 8th (1 out): Ramirez slices one to center and Fowler is there. Two down.
Bottom 8th (no outs): Santana cant hold up on a dirt-submerged breaking ball from Grimm, and he strikes out. One down for Jose Ramirez.
Grimm is still in for Chicago, and Santana leads it off for the Tribe.
Top 8th (2 outs): MILLER TIME!! Andrew strikes out Schwarbs on a slider that ducks low into the zone. Kyle swings through, and the Tribe is out of their second straight jam. Bottom of the 8th coming up, don't go anywhere!! (Or grab a snack, it's okay)
Top 8th (2 outs): base hit! Zobrist smacks his third hit the other way to right, and Bryant races easily to third. Suddenly, the tying run is up to bat...and it's Kyle Schwarber!
Top 8th (1 out): Rizzo flies one to very shallow center, and Davis calls off a dramatic Lindor (who flailed a little bit after being sent off) and makes the grab. Two gone. Miller's at 37 pitches. Zobrist up.
Top 8th (1 out): Rizzo fouls a bunch of pitches off and takes ball 3 outside. It's 3-2 to the first baseman.
Top 8th (1 out): Miller walks Bryant on six pitches, the reliever's second so far. The Cubs are working against him, but need some more. Here comes Rizzo.
Top 8th (no outs): Fowler skies one to center, but Davis runs it down for the out.
Lindor is the youngest Indians player to record three hits since....well, the last time Cleveland made the World Series -- Edgar Renteria did it in 1997.
Bottom 7th (2 outs): Napoli rolls one off the bat to Rizzo in the hole, who flips a floater to Grimm for the third out. On to the 8th we go!
A sweet moment at second base, too. Lindor and Baez, childhood buddies, happily slap each other and exchange some friendly words. Those guys are adorable.
Bottom 7th (2 outs): Lindor is as sweet and chocolatey as ever tonight. He lines a double to right from the left side of the plate. Grimm stays in to face Napoli, as some two out trouble brews for Chicago.
By the way, Wilson Contreras stayed in the game as catcher after his pinch hit appearance. He's behind the plate now, and Alberto Almora Jr. is in right field instead of Coghlan. David Ross is out.
PITCHING CHANGE: Justin Grimm comes in for Wood.
Bottom 7th (1 out): Kip sprays one to the left side of the middle but Russell was shaded over. Easy play, and two away (Poetry is great, wouldn't you say?).
PITCHING CHANGE: lefty Travis Wood is in for Strop. Kipnis, a lefty hitter, is up for Cleveland.
Bottom 7th (no outs): Strop retires Davis on an infield popup to second, and Pedro is set to leave the game for Travis Wood.
Miller had to work hard that inning -- the Cubs looked ready for him in some form. Even so, he grits his way past the 7-8-9 spots to sneak Cleveland into the next ining with their 3-run lead intact.
Top 7th (2 outs): Wow! Miller gets out of the jam with a 3-2 slider to strike out Ross. It jams him inside, and Gramps can't check his swing. The Indians are six outs away from winning Game 1...
Top 7th (1 out): STRUCK HIM OUT! Miller is back on track, as his wicked slider ends up basically on Russell's knees. Nothing he could do about it, and the Indians are one out away from escaping.
Top 7th (no outs): PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE!!! Davis races for a shallow popup and catches it, but instead of throwing to second to easily double up Schwarbs (see, it works), he throws home. Instead, it's one out with the bases still jacked for Russell.
PINCH HITTER: Wilson Contreras, who has come up with some clutch hits this postseason, replaces Chris Coghlan.
Top 7th (no outs): base hit! Javy rips one to left, and the baserunners move up. Bases loaded and nobody out for the Cubbies.
Top 7th (no outs): Miller, who is rather frustrated, walks Kyle Schwarber on six pitches. Good at-bat by Schwarbs (that's a nice nickname, do people call him that yet?). Two on and no out for Baez.
PITCHING CHANGE: The Randy Johnson-esque Andrew Miller (YEAH I SAID IT) comes in for Kluber.
Top 7th (no outs): Kluber's out there to start the eighth, and he allows a lining single to left off Zobrist. Francona comes to take him out.
By the way, Jose Ramirez is the first player since since April 2015 to have three hits in a game against Jon Lester. Insane? Probably. Impressive? Yes. Important? Meh, probably not, but whatever, that's a fun fact.
Bottom 6th (2 outs): A delicious pitch from Strop -- a buckling curve that falls just above Perez's knees. Inning over.
Hmm. Ump calls time after an apparent power surge. The lights flickered off, and then back on. All is well, though. Back to the game we go!
PITCHING CHANGE: Pedro Strop comes in for Jon Lester. He has one out to get with a runner on second.
Bottom 6th (1 out): Chisenhall lifts the first pitch to left, and Zobrist makes the simple play. Maddon is on his way out to Lester. He's done after 97 pitches and 5 2/3 innings.
Bottom 6th (no outs): 2-2 to Brandon Guyer, and Lester's painting outdoor fastball is called for a strike 3. Lester's 7th K of the game. That pitch has been getting called all night, on both sides. Here's Lonnie.
BULLPEN ALERT: The Cubs' pen is beginning to stir, and there's a meeting at the mound now. RHP Pedro Strop has begun throwing. As has LHP Travis Wood.
Bottom 6th (no outs): Ramirez!! The Cleveland third baseman stays with a low pitch and smokes it the other way, and he digs into second with a stand-up double. Jose is 3-for-3 tonight.
Kluber has tossed 85 fantastic pitches tonight. If Francona pulls him after six, there is a significant chance Kluber starts Game 4 on three days rest, especially with a smaller amount of work tonight. The 2014 CY Young Winner has blanked the Cubs thus far with his frontdoor sinker, low-zone slider, and his accurate fastball. He's been painting the zone brilliantly.
Top 6th (2 outs): Rizzo is jammed for the second time tonight, and this time Perez makes the catch in fair territory. Kluber trots off to the dugout, but will he come back out for the seventh?
Top 6th (1 out): Man, the Cubs are struggling. Bryant pops one behind the plate and Perez hovers under and makes the catch. Two away.
BULLPEN ALERT: Andrew Miller is beginning to warm up in the Cleveland pen. Let's see when Francona is ready for him to take over for Kluber.
Top 6th (no outs): Fowler bounces one to second, and is thrown out easily. One quick out for Kluber, and he's now at 76 pitches.
Bottom 5th (2 outs): Carlos Santana, who cramped up his leg on the bases last time out, stands in there. After four pitches, Santana strikes out looking on an outdoor fastball. Great inning from Lester, who may finally be settled in. On to the sixth!
Bottom 5th (1 out): A sneaky outdoor changeup gets Napoli swinging. Two down in the 5th in what is so far a good inning from Lester.
By the way, the Cavs destroyed the Knicks in Quicken Loans Arena across the street, 117-88. Cleveland is 1-0 tonight!
Bottom 5th (no outs): Lindor softly hits one barely in front of the plate, and Ross does a good job to pick it up while it's fair and throw him out. One out.
Bottom 5th (no outs): Lindor laces one foul down the left field line but it's foul in the seats. This kid can really swing the bat.
Bottom 5th (no outs): Lindor, 2-for-2 today, leads off the inning. He fouls off the first pitch for strike 1.
Kluber is through 5 innings with 73 pitches, 3 hits allowed, and 9 strikeouts (just 1 in his last two innings). The Cubs are in trouble, especially if Kluber can cleanly hand it off to Andrew Miller in a later inning.
Top 5th (2 outs): David Ross stretches his bat to oblivion and loops one towards the right hole, but Napoli leans towards it and makes the easy grab. Kluber has been spectacular tonight.
Top 5th (1 out): Russell flies one to center and Davis squeezes it. Two away in the 5th.
Top 5th (no outs): Coghlan leads off and strikes out looking on Kluber's deadly frontdoor sinker/slider. He's on fire tonight, and that pitch is a big reason why.
Bottom 4th (2 outs): Lester has been increasingly accurate with the first pitch curve. After he opens Kipnis' at-bat with a looking looper for strike one, the Indians second baseman lifts one into foul ground by the left field line, and Russell runs it down to close the inning. 3-0 Cleveland after 4.
Bottom 4th (1 out): Davis, the lead-off man, lifts a low pitch to deep left, but Zobrist hangs under it by the warning track. Two down.
Bottom 4th (1 out): Roberto Perez cracks one into left on a line drive, and its gone! It sneaks over the yellow line above that giant green wall. Just like that, it's 3-0 Indians. That's Perez's 2nd homer of the playoffs.
Bottom 4th (no outs): Lester strikes out Chisenhall swinging. One away now. Lester has settled down a bit after a rough first inning.
Top 4th (2 outs): Baez eagerly swings at the first pitch and lifts it well to right. But Chisenhall is there for the easy catch.
Top 4th (2 outs): Whoa!! Schwarber rips one in the air to right, and it bounces off the base of the wall for a double. He ran okay, too!
Top 4th (1 out): On 2-1, Zobrist sharply bounces one towards the hole between 1st and 2nd, but Kipnis side-steps over and flips to Napoli for the out. Solid play. Schwarber to the plate.
Top 4th (no outs): Rizzo pops one foul, but it stays in the park and Perez snags it for the first out. Up comes Zobrist.
Top 4th (no outs): Anthony Rizzo leads off the fourth. This game has moved very slowly so far. It's already 9:30 PM EST.
Bottom 3rd (2 outs): Strike three called, and Lester leaves the mound with the home plate umpire for a word. He was frustrated with the zone last inning. To the fourth we go!
Bottom 3rd (2 outs): Lester's first pitch to Guyer pops out of Ross' glove, but Santana isn't going anywhere. He's the DH though, so he'll have plenty of time to stretch out the leg.
Meanwhile, across the street, the Cavaliers are through three quarters with an 82-64 lead over the Knicks. Santana is staying in the game, now.
Uh oh. After Ramirez's single, Santana is shaken up at second. While running to the bag, maybe afterwards, Carlos' leg appeared to cramp up. He's on the outfield grass with trainers and Francona now, and Lester is getting antsy on the mound.
Bottom 3rd (2 outs): Up the middle for a base hit! Ramirez notches his second World Series hit by lacing one into centerfield. Two on and two out for Guyer.
Bottom 3rd (2 outs): Lester walks the DH Santana on 4 pitches. Here's Jose Ramirez now.
Bottom 3rd (1 out): Caught stealing! Ross fires to second as Lindor takes the jump. Baez makes a speedy backhand tag, his signature move, and the Cubs have cleared Frankie off the bases. Cleveland thought about challenging, but after standing out on 2nd for a half a minute, Lindor reluctlantly trudges to the dugout.
Bottom 3rd (1 out): Well then. Lindor skitters of first, but Lester doesn't throw the ball over to first. Lester has never felt comfortable making that throw, but Lindor hasn't gone yet.
Bottom 3rd (no outs): Napoli, either confused or just inattentive, takes a fastball down the middle for strike three. Lester came to the plate quickly after looking at Lindor for a bit.
Bottom 3rd (no outs): Lindor slots one the other way into right for a leadoff single. He has been absurd this postseason. Let's see if he runs on Lester again.
Top 3rd (2 outs): HE GOT HIM!! Bryant strikes out swinging, and Kluber sets a World Series record with 8 strikeouts through 3 innings. Cleveland's ace is on fire tonight.
Top 3rd (1 out):
Kluber's sideways sliding fastball/sinker/unhittable pitch has been phenomenal. Two in a row for the second and third strike to Fowler. 7 strikeouts in 8 outs for Kluber.
Top 3rd (1 out): Gramps strikes! Ross sits on a low hanging slider and strokes it to left for a single.
Top 3rd (no outs): Oh my. Strikeout number 6 for Kluber is a silky slider that catches Russell looking low in the zone. Unfair. That's a pitch Russell has struggled with.
Bottom 2nd (2 outs): Kipnis gets under one and swings early. Baez chases it down by the stands in foul territory in right, and almost stumbles, too. Much better from Lester in the second.
Bottom 2nd (1 out): Rajai Davis bumps a hard roller towards the middle. Lester kicks it, and tosses to first for the second out.
Bottom 2nd (no outs): Perez pops one to shallow left. Zobrist squeezes it. One away.
Bottom 2nd (no outs): Lester, now at 26 pitches, faces Roberto Perez to lead off the inning. It's 1-2.
Top 2nd (2 outs): STRUCK HIM OUT!! Kluber with his 5th punchout of the game is a fastball down the pipe. Coghlan froze and held up his swing. Delightful inning from Kluber.
Top 2nd (2 outs): Chris Coghlan has been jumpy, yet patient. It's 3-1 to the Cubs' right fielder.
Top 2nd (1 out): Called strike three! Kluber's dancing 2-seamer carves the outer half, and Baez knows it. He walks away without a word.
Top 2nd (1 out): Behind Baez, a fan holds up a "Bartman for President" sign. Cruel, indeed. 2-2 to Javy.
Top 2nd (no outs): Struck him out! Schwarber slashes at a 93 mph tailing fastball up, but he can't keep up. One away, and here comes Javy Baez.
Top 2nd (no outs): So here's Schwarber, who is the first position player to play in 2 or less regular season games and also play in the World Series
Top 2nd (no outs): Zobrist! Chicago's cleanup smacks a ball up in the zone into right-center and it rolls to the wall. A leadoff double for Zobrist.
Bottom 1st (2 outs): Oh my! David Ross snags a foul pop behind the plate right at the protection screen, and his face slams into the padded bar underneath. He may be an old man, but the Cubs' catcher sure can take a hit.
Guyer had no chance to get out of the way anyway, that was a fastball right to his back leg. It didn't even look like Lester lost the grip on it, but he did. Here's Lonnie Chisenhall.
Bottom 1st (2 outs): Oh no oh no oh no. Lester hits Guyer on an 0-2 pitch. I have no idea how that happened, but it's 2-0 Indians now. Guyer doesn't make the biggest attempt to get out of the way, but it bopped him above the right knee anyway. Unphased, Guyer trots to first with an RBI.
Bottom 1st (2 outs): Brandon Guyer, a right-handed hitter, watches a looping Lester curve fall in for strike 1. Then he fouls one off. 0-2.
Bottom 1st (2 outs): RAMIREZ!!! A dribbler comes off the tip of Jose's bat, and it rolls into no-man's land in between Lester and 3B Kris Bryant. It's 1-0 Cleveland on an RBI infield single.
Bottom 1st (2 outs): Lester misses inside on 3-1, and Santana walks. Suddenly, the Indians have a big inning cookin'. Can Jose Ramirez deliver here with two outs?
Santana hit 34 homers and drove in 87 RBIs this season. And Lester is behind him 3-0. Out comes David Ross to give him a pep-talk.
Bottom 1st (2 outs): What was a smooth inning for Lester has turned stressful. Napoli walks on 5 pitches, and it's 1st and second for Carlos Santana.
Bottom 1st (2 outs): Stolen base!! Lindor takes off and the ball slips away from Ross' grip. Frankie had it all the way, anyway. It's 3-0 to Mike Napoli now.
Bottom 1st (2 outs): Lindor bounces a single up the middle on a 1-1 pitch. Now, is it time for him to steal? Lindor had 19 stolen bases in 2016, but he has plenty of speed.
Bottom 1st (1 out): Kipnis shoots one down the 1st base line, but Rizzo is right there to make a l0w catch. A lineout, and two outs for Lester (on 5 pitches too!)
Bottom 1st (no outs): Lester goes right after Davis and strikes him out on a high and away fastball. Plenty of cheers, too. It seems the Cubs have a lot of fans here tonight, and why not?
Bottom 1st (no outs): Lester takes the hill, and his first pitch is a fastball for a called strike to Rajai Davis, who is 0-for-12 in the playoffs so far.
Top 1st (2 outs): Rizzo is jammed and pops one up to Ramirez who was shifted over to shortstop. A nice little inning there from Kluber.
Top 1st (1 out): Strikeout called again!! A fastball down and away picks the corner. Bryant was a third down the line before hearing the call, apparently. It is very very loud in Progressive Field.
Top 1st (no outs): Strike three called! Kluber's slippery, sliding 2-seamer hooks onto the inside of the strike zone. One away. Kris Bryant is up now.
The Indians are in their alternate navy tops and white pants, and the Cubs are in their classic road grays with their blue cap. It's 2-2 to Dexter Fowler.
Top 1st (no outs): We are underway! The first pitch to Fowler is a ball low and away. Fowler, a switch-hitter, is hitting lefty.
In case you were wondering, the Cubs and Indians have waited for a combined 176 years to win another World Series. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY SIX YEARS.
One more round of commercials (guhh), and first pitch is coming soon.
FOX runs a beautiful introduction of some, well, older people proclaiming their love and happiness for their teams, the Indians and Cubs. Really cool, and a reminder that baseball is a kid's game for literally everybody.
Cool camera work by FOX as the anthem thunderously closes. Fireworks are popping in the sky, as is all of Cleveland. First pitch coming up!!
Cleveland's ballpark, Progressive Field, feels like a wide and padded up Fenway Park. Not in a bad way, perhaps. But at times it feels enormous. A long and high left field wall is topped with a concrete standing area and high-climbing bleachers, and some trees and advertisements -- ah yes, nature -- are sprinkled just above the centerfield wall. Though Progressive Field, which was built in 1997, may seem unordinary and spacious, it's sure to get loud. In fact, it already is. The Indians PA is announcing the team's starters as they line up along the field for the National Anthem. It's almost time for Game 1!!
Speaking of men on base, Cleveland's gameplan tonight is sure to include activity on the basepaths. They stole 134 bases this season, more than any A.L. team, and are facing a pitcher who struggles with base stealers. Even so, Cleveland will tread carefully due to Javy Baez's magic tags and tosses, and Chicago's overall solid defense. It's an advantage the Cubs have held all season, and even in a big ballpark, they won't be shy to showcase their prowess.
Anyway, now that Maddon's club has a more expansive budget -- and a phenomenal head executive in Theo Epstein -- his lineups pack incredible punch. The Cubs seem to have men on base ALL THE TIME, and they drive them in efficiently and effectively.
Joe Maddon is only in the second year of his managerial stint in Chicago. He led the Cubs to the NLCS last year where they were swept by the Mets, but Maddon has been revered by baseball pundits since he brought the Tampa Bay Rays -- the RAYS!!!! -- to the World Series in 2008. Though they lost to the Phillies in 5 games, Maddon brought Tampa to 30 postseason games in his 9 seasons. I'll say it again, Joe did this WITH THE TAMPA BAY RAYS!!
Francona was Cubs starter Jon Lester's manager in Boston, where he won two World Series in 2004 and 2007. Francona has loads of experience, and has proven himself as a motivating, savvy leader in the Majors. Under Francona since 2013, the Indians have a .545 winning percentage.
Corey Kluber is on the mound for Cleveland tonight. As the ace of his staff, he needs a strong outing tonight. He has an ERA under 1.00 in the postseason so far, and Terry Francona won't want Game 1 to turn to a bullpen battle.
At age 29, Kipnis has secured himself in the upper echelon of MLB second basemen. He isn't quite as dynamic as Lindor -- Kipnis is a pure hitter. Though only 5-for-30 in the playoffs, Kipnis' bat can wake up in a trance, and Cleveland needs it against Chicago. Even against a tricky lefty, Kipnis is hitting 2nd tonight, and will see plenty of pitches to hit. Kipnis is a career .272 hitter with a .768 OPS, and is coming off his best power year yet -- 23 HRs, 82 RBIs, and .469 SLG.
Lindor and Kipnis are vital to Cleveland's offense. Lindor, especially, has been clutch and energtic throughout the postseason -- he can do it all. Francisco is as melty-sweet and crunchy as Lindor Chocolates. He's hitting .323 in the postseason with 2 homers and 4 RBIs, and he ended his first full MLB season with a splendid 5.7 WAR. And, at 22-years-old, he was voted to the A.L. All Star team.
The Indians, just like the Cubs, boast a dynamic and talented middle infield. Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis have been enormous factors all season long, and they've caused plenty of havoc in the playoffs. Lindor and Javy Baez have known each other since their Puerto Rican childhoods, and are about to share the same field for the first time since High School.
Apparently, Kyle Schwarber looks just fine in batting practice.
The Indians have officially released their lineup:
1) CF Rajai Davis
2) 2B Jason Kipnis
3) SS Franciso Lindor
4) 1B Mike Napoli
5) DH Carlos Santana
6) 3B Jose Ramirez
7) LF Bryan Guyer
8) RF Lonnie Chisenhall
9) C Roberto Perez
Pitcher: Corey Kluber
By the way, Jon Lester has three career World Series starts, all with the Red Sox. His record? 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA and 12 hits in 21 innings. How's that for a Game 1 Starter?
Amazingly, Maddon has strayed away from a lineup with Jason Heyward, who has hit .073 in the playoffs. Coghlan starts in right instead.
The Cubs lineup has been released, and Schwarber's hitting 5th! Here it is:
1) CF Dexter Fowler
2) 3B Kris Bryant
3) 1B Anthony Rizzo
4) LF Ben Zobrist
5) DH Kyle Schwarber
6) 2B Javier Baez
7) RF Chris Coghlan
8) SS Addison Russell
9) C David Ross
Pitcher: Jon Lester
Downtown Cleveland is going to be chaotic tonight. Just across the street from Progressive Field, the Cleveland Cavaliers tip off the NBA season with their ring ceremony. For the first time in 50 years, Cleveland will raise a banner. Can they win a second championship in one year?
Schwarber, a catcher and outfielder, injured his knee on a nasty collision with Dexter Fowler in left-centerfield in Arizona. Schwarber's greatest gift, however, is his bat. He's as big and powerful as they come, and was a critical part of the Cubs' 2015 playoff success. Schwarber's iconic moment came in Game 4 against the St Louis Cardinals -- Chicago's clincher to reach the NLCS. Up 5-4 in the 7th, Schwarber smoked a solo homer off the top of the scoreboard in Wrigley Field's right corner. A few months later, the Cubs brought the ball back and encased it on top of its landing spot, somehow not bashed in by Schwarber's sheer power. Cleveland better watch out, even if Kyle isn't fully healthy.
Remember when I said we'd preview Kyle Schwarber? Well, here we go. Schwarber has officially been added to the Cubs' World Series roster. In the third game of 2016, Schwarber shredded his knee, tearing his ACL and LCL. But, he has made a tremendous comeback and is expected to DH tonight. Just incredible.
So, here we are. As October begins to tumble away into the sleet and mist of November, baseball's final symphony is ready to play. The Cubs and Indians are poised to give us an ageless, mind-bending, and mouth-watering World Series. These teams are loaded with the league's tastiest characters, a rejuvenating cast to give the baseball world a brand new spectacle. And we at VAVEL USA just can't wait. As we tiptoe closer to game time, we'll preview more players and possibilities like Francisco Lindor, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Kipnis, and the two World Series managers, Joe Maddon and Terry Francona.
Cleveland's bullpen may only be matched by Chicago. The Cubs' 7th-8th-9th trio is one of bullying, aggressive, and fiery pitchers. Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Aroldis Chapman make up Chicago's back-end, and they are spectacular. While Chapman, a Cuban missile with a 103 MPH arm-cannon, has run into some save-situation trouble, he has been able to gather himself at critical moments. The Cubs acquired him from the Yankees at the Trade Deadline this summer, the exact way the Indians picked up Miller.
The playoffs' biggest lesson is bound to be re-taught in the World Series -- bullpens are crucial. Andrew Miller, Cleveland's left-and-loop handed monster longman, won the ALCS MVP -- he threw 7 2/3 innings with 14 strikeouts, and just 3 hits allowed. He was untouchable. He was perfect. Miller is the closest lanky lefty to Randy Johnson we have seen, and he isn't even Cleveland's closer -- that's Cody Allen's job. Allen has thrown 7 2/3 innings in the playoffs, with a superb line of 5 saves, 5 hits, 3 walks, and 12 strikeouts. So, don't expect to score on the Indians after the 6th inning.
The Cubs can pitch, too. Jon Lester will start Game 1, and he's followed up by Kyle Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, and John Lackey. Hendricks and Lester are both significant NL Cy Young candidates. Hendricks led the league with a 2.13 ERA, and Lester has been a splendid and consistent ace all year. Oh, and Arrieta won the Cy Young Award last year. This Cubs rotation is good, really good.
Enough about the Indians. Not that they're boring or unlikeable -- they're neither -- but it's time to talk about the Cubs. After signing Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist last summer, Chicago entered 2016 with loads of potential. While still young, they are more experienced after reaching the NLCS in 2015. They're better, too. 2B Javier Baez and SS Addison Russell have proven so -- they were dynamic, explosive, and crucial in the first two rounds. The Cubs' infield is absurd, and not yet at the peak of their potential. 1B Anthony Rizzo and 3B Kris Bryant are Chicago's biggest power threats, usually hitting 2nd and 3rd in the lineup. Russell and Baez, meanwhile, are meant to shred open the opposing starter's wear-and-tear, eager to rip games open and wreak havoc on the bases. Baez and Russell have been x-factors all postseason, as is the case in the World Series.
Cleveland's biggest losses, however, are those of their top two starting pitchers, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Carrasco fractured a bone in his hand after being struck by a comebacker in late September, ending his season. Salazar, however, has suddenly become a wild card for the World Series. He's healthy -- somewhat -- and has crept onto Cleveland's roster. Though he may feature as a starter or reliever, Salazar appears anchored to a 65-70 pitch limit. However, the Indians are fired up to have one of the AL's top young pitchers back for the World Series. In 17 first-half starts, Salazar went 10-3 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, though he did plummet after the All-Star Break.
The Indians most notable offensive scrapes are OF Michael Brantley and C Yan Gomes. Gomes had been terrible before he hit the DL 74 games into the year, batting a blind .167, and Roberto Perez and Chris Jimenez have combined for solid replacements. Brantley's shoulder injury has kept him out all year, besides 11 early games. His absence has paved the way for rookie Tyler Naquin, a fresh Cleveland spark plug, and veteran Rajai Davis. Though Brantley's sparkling hitting is missed, Cleveland has been far from anemic on offense. They're savvy, gritty, and always seem to have runners on base -- just like the Cubs.
The Cubs and Indians have both arrived here after wonderful seasons. Chicago has been the most dangerous team in the NL and finished with the best record in the Majors, 103-58. Meanwhile, Cleveland won the AL Central with ease but stumbled into the postseason with multiple injuries.
In case you were wondering, my name is Elijah Ackerman, and I'm here to give you all the updates -- complete with witty comments -- you need for Game 1.
Hi, everyone! Welcome to VAVEL USA's live coverage of the 2016 World Series. Tonight is Game 1 between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. An unpredicted matchup, these two Central Division teams are ready for a historic World Series.