Experts said that the 3-game stay in Chicago would be the downfall of the Cleveland Indians. They said that the upstart Cleveland squad could not survive without a designated hitter for three games, something the Chicago Cubs would be used to.
But they forgot about one thing.
The Wrigley Field curse lives on.
The Chicago Cubs dropped to 2-14 all time in the World Series when playing at Wrigley Field, as they find themselves in a 3-1 series hole, with one more game to be played at the so-called 'Friendly Confines'.
On Saturday, those confines were anything but friendly to the Chicago Cubs, who made two errors, allowed two home runs, and were thoroughly outplayed en route to an ugly 7-2 loss that has Chicago on the brink of what would be a stunning elimination. In Game 4, Cleveland was led by the red-hot bats of Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, who combined for six hits, two home runs, and 4 RBI in the game.
Francisco Lindor chipped in with a pair of hits for the Indians. Corey Kluber dominated the Cubs while pitching on short rest, firing six dominant innings. His lone blemish being a first-inning run by the Cubs. He struck out six, scattering five hits in the victory.
Cubs strike first, but Indians rally quickly
After John Lackey hurled a perfect first inning, the Cubs got on the board quickly, using a leadoff double from Dexter Fowler as a springboard to score their first run in thirteen innings. Fowler came around to score on a RBI single from Anthony Rizzo, who, along with Fowler and Jason Heyward, was one of three Cubs to record two hits in the game.
However, Cleveland struck back quickly against Lackey, as poor defense victimized the right-hander in the frame. Facing Santana to lead off the inning, Lackey watched the count go full, a count that he has held hitters to a .103 average in. However, Santana brought that average up, as he got hold of a 92mph fastball and lifted it into the right field stands for a home run that tied the game.
That should have been the only damage done in the inning, but a pair of throwing errors from Kris Bryant allowed another tally to come around and score, giving the Indians the lead for good. The run, incidentally, came around to score on an infield hit and error off the bat of none other than Kluber.
The Indians tacked on a quick run in the third, as Lindor singled in Kipnis, who had doubled to lead off the inning.
Kluber dominates again, Miller and Otero wrap it up
After his shaky start, Kluber rebounded quickly and quickly entered cruise-control, never letting the Cubs back into the game, as his team piled on the runs. He had to work his way out of a few mini-jams, but Kluber never seemed flustered on the bump, calmly inducing an inning-ending double play in the second inning and striking out Ben Zobrist with two on to end the third. Kluber gave up just one hit over the next two innings, a harmless two-out single by Heyward. In his last inning, protecting a 4-1 lead, he surrendered a leadoff double to Rizzo. However, Kluber used his offspeed stuff, getting his next three outs on 7 breaking balls and just 1 fastball, as Rizzo never even advanced to third base.
After the Indians essentially put the game away in the seventh inning with three more runs, Terry Francona brought in Andrew Miller, who cruised through a 7-pitch seventh inning. Miller would allow the first run he has given up all postseason, but it was a harmless solo blast off the bat of Fowler in the eighth inning. Besides the rather meaningless dinger, Miller was lights-out once more.
Dan Otero finished things off the Cubs as he didn't give Chicago the sniff of a potential dramatic rally, working his way around a 1-out single, getting a pop-out and two ground-ball outs to end the game.
Cleveland offense explodes late to put game away
Although a two-run lead was essentially a guaranteed win with the Cleveland bullpen, the Indians put a stamp on things, exploding for four more runs in the sixth and seventh innings.
After Lackey left the game, having given up three runs (two earned) over five innings, the Indians jumped on Mike Montgomery, leading off the inning with a walk from Lindor and a single by Santana. A fielder's choice put runners on the corners for Lonnie Chisenhall, whose deep fly ball was knocked down by the wind, but it wsa deep enough for the sacrifice fly and 4-1 Cleveland lead.
Following Montgomery's struggles, Justin Grimm entered the game and escaped without further damage. However, Grimm collapsed in the seventh, allowing a leadoff double to pinch-hitting Coco Crisp and hitting Rajai Davis with a pitch. Maddon yanked Grimm in favor of Travis Wood, whom Jason Kipnis greeted with a monster three-run jack to put the game away, increasing Cleveland's lead to 7-1.
The Indians will get their first chance to clinch on Sunday night, when they can try to steal the World Series from the Cubs at Wrigley Field, handing the ball to Trevor Bauer, one of the few struggling Cleveland pitchers this postseason. The Cubs counter with their ace, Jon Lester, who was beat up in Game 1, but he still has a 1.69 ERA this postseason.