The Indians had everything go right for them on Saturday in Game 4. On short rest, Corey Kluber was brilliant, and the offense finally came through, scoring seven runs. As a result, the Indians took a commanding 3-1 lead, with a fully rested bullpen to help them secure one more victory. If that occurs, Cleveland will have its first baseball championship since 1948.
John Lackey opened Game 4 of the World Series looking sharp. The Tribe went down in order very quietly, as the veteran pitcher got Rajai Davis to ground to third on three pitches before striking out Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor using fastballs and cutters.
In the bottom half, Corey Kluber was not quite as sharp. While he induced very weak contact the Cubs first three hitters, only Kris Bryant’s pop to short was recorded as an out. A 74 mph bloop to left field by Dexter Fowler resulted in a leadoff double, and who would score when Anthony Rizzo hit 73 mph flare to center field. However, Kluber limited any more damage by getting Ben Zobrist to fly to deep center and striking out Wilson Contreas.
The Cubs lead wouldn’t last long, thanks to a Carlos Santana solo home run to lead off the second inning. According to Statcast, Santana sent Lackey’s offering 381 feet over the right field wall with an exit velocity of 102 mph. However, the Indians weren’t done: Lonnie Chisenhall would later reach on a throwing error by Bryant, and advance to second on a Roberto Perez groundout. After Lackey walked Tyler Naquin to get to Kluber, Kluber managed to put the ball in play with a weak grounder to third base, and Bryant made his second errant throw of the inning, which scored Chisenhall, giving the Tribe a 2-1 lead. Rajai Davis would end the half inning on a grounder to second base.
After helping himself on offense, Kluber blanked the Cubs in the second inning. Though Kluber allowed a hit to the struggling Jason Heyward, he was later erased on a double-play off the bat on Javier Baez. Baez was initially ruled safe, but an Indians’ challenge reversed the call.
Cleveland would add to their lead in the third inning, thanks to a leadoff double by Jason Kipnis and a single by Francisco Lindor. Lindor’s at bat in particular was very impressive, as he fell behind to Lackey and demonstrated great plate discipline, taking a few close calls before lacing his single into center field. However, the Indians wouldn’t extend to their lead in third to more than 3-1, as Santana struck out and Jose Ramirez grounded into a double play to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Kluber would continue to roll, albeit not necessarily easily. After retiring Lackey and Fowler, Kluber walked Bryant and hit Rizzo, but struck out Ben Zobrist to end Chicago’s scoring threat.
The Indians offense couldn’t add to their lead in the fourth, as their at bats went quickly and quietly. Lonnie Chisenhall started the inning by sending a lazy fly ball to Jason Heyward in right field. Then, oddly, Roberto Perez tried to bunt for a hit, which was unsuccessful, and Naquin followed with a strikeout.
In the bottom half on the inning, Kluber continued to set down Chicago with relative ease. Heyward managed another single off of Kluber, but the Tribe’s ace struck out Contreras and Baez, while also getting Addison Russell to fly out to center, and the score remained 3-1.
Corey Kluber led off at the plate for the Indians in the fifth inning, and was called out on strikes. The top of the order couldn’t do much better, as Lackey got Rajai Davis and Jason Kipnis to ground out.
Meanwhile, Kluber showed no signs of slowing down on the mound. Kluber retired Chicago in order, including Chris Coghlan, who was a pinch hitter for Lackey, ending the pitcher’s night Lackey’s final line was 5 IP, 3 R (2 ER), 4 H, 5 K, 1 BB.
With Lackey out of the game, Mike Montgomery was on the mound for the Cubs. While Lackey had retired the last 8 Indians, the Tribe was able to do some damage against the lefty. Lindor started the inning off with a walk , and Santana followed up with a single. Then, Ramirez advanced Lindor to third base after beating out a potential double play. The Indians would then add to their lead off a Lonnie Chisenhall sacrifice fly, making the score 4-1. Roberto Perez would extend the inning with a walk, but Brandon Guyer (pinch hitting for Naquin) would strike out against Justin Grimm to end the inning.
Corey Kluber came back out of the 6th frame, and things started a little rough, with Rizzo leading off with a double. However, Kluber would manage to strand Rizzo at second base by getting Zobrist to weakly fly to left, striking out Contreras, and getting Russell to ground out.
The seventh inning would be a big one for Cleveland. Coco Crisp lead off the inning with a double, pinch hitting for Kluber, whose final line stood at 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 1 BB. The next batter, Davis, squared to bunt, and Grimm threw a wild pitch that allowed Crisp to advance to third with no outs. Grimm would go on to hit Davis, putting runners on first and third for Jason Kipnis.
In his hometown, Kipnis delivered the crushing blow to Chicago, hammering Grimm’s offering over the right field fence, putting Cleveland up 7-1. The Indians wouldn’t add any more runs in the inning, but they wouldn’t need them.
Andrew Miller would come out to pitch the 7th inning for Kluber, and he did what he normally does, setting Chicago down in order
Hector Rodon took the ball for Chicago, and was able to set down Cleveland 1-2-3. Mike Napoli nearly added to the Indians lead, but fell short of a home run to left-center field by about 10 feet.
In the bottom half, something amazing happened: Andrew Miller finally allowed a home run. Dexter Fowler took Miller out of the yard to lead off the inning, cutting the score to 7-2. However, Bryant, Rizzo and Zobrist had no such luck, and Miller ended the inning without any more damage.
Rodon stayed on the pitch the ninth, and despite allowing singles to Lindor and Kipnis, managed to keep Cleveland from adding any insurance runs, keeping Cleveland’s lead at five runs entering the final frame.
Dan Otero came on to pitch the ninth – allowing Cody Allen to rest – and ended the game with minimal drama. Addison Russell did manage a single, but Otero retired the other three Cubs hitters he faced in the inning with ease, and locked down the win and a 3-1 series lead for the Indians.