The Indians won all season thanks to their tremendous starting pitching, great defense and well rounded offense, but none of that was apparent as the Cubs blew out the Tribe in game six, forcing a game seven in Cleveland tomorrow night.
Josh Tomlin began game six with a couple strikes on the outside corner before getting Dexter Fowler to line out to third for the first out. Kyle Schwarber came out swinging from the on deck circle and grounded out to Jason Kipnis pulled far to the right side with the shift. Tomlin got ahead of Kris Bryant as well, but when he tried to put him away with the curve, the Cubs slugger made him pay with a solo home run well up the bleachers in left.
Tomlin continued to have trouble with his command, leaving pitches up in the zone and both Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist hit line drive singles to center to put runners at the corners with two outs. Addison Russell hit a fairly routing fly ball to right center that should have been the final out, but Tyler Naquin pulled away from the ball for some reason and Lonnie Chisenhall thought the center fielder had it. With the runners going, both scored on the play and Russell made it all the way to third when the throw home from Kipnis got away from Roberto Perez. This was ruled an error, but Russell’s contact was called a double as neither outfielder touched the ball before it hit the ground. Naquin was able to catch the next one as Willson Contreras popped out to center to end the inning.
Jake Arrieta had his cutter working early and he used it to strike out Carlos Santana swinging. Kipnis grounded up the middle to second and Javier Baez made a nice turn to put him out at first. Francisco Lindor showed a great eye at the plate in working a walk with a seven pitch at bat, but Mike Napoli stranded him there, swinging and missing at some pitches that had quite a lot of the plate.
Tomlin looked significantly better in the second as he went through the line-up in order. The outfield defense looked better as well with Chisenhall catching two fly outs from Jason Heyward and Fowler with an incredible play by Kipnis turned in between against his counterpart, Baez.
The Tribe also went down in order in the second and again, Arrieta struck out two. Ramirez went swinging to start the inning, then Chisenhall joined him. Coco Crisp at least put it in play as he grounded out to Bryant at third.
Working through the order a second time, Schwarber worked a walk, then things looked ugly again as Chisenhall had to call off Naquin on a fly ball to center that the pair nearly collided on. This would be Tomlin’s last out, however, as Rizzo hit another line drive single up the middle and Zobrist hit a ground ball through the right side to load the bases. Terry Francona went to Dan Otero to try to put out the fire that Tomlin’s lack of command had caused.
Otero did nothing beyond making the situation even worse, missing with two pitches against Russell before allowing a massive grand slam on a pitch down the middle. This put the Cubs up 7-0 and, considering what Arrieta did to the Indians the last time the two teams faced off, effectively forced a game seven in the third inning. Otero did retire Contreras with a ground ball and Heyward with an infield fly, but the damage had been more than done.
It was more of the same for the Indians offense in the bottom half. Naquin struck out looking before Roberto Perez flew out to center and Santana grounded out to first early in the count for a quick inning.
Having seen plenty from Otero, Terry Francona went to normal starter Danny Salazar to eat some innings. While hindsight is 20/20, he may have been better served just skipping Otero and going to the starter before the game was out of reach. Salazar looked like he did before he was injured, striking out Baez swinging on a fast ball and Fowler on a change-up. Schwarber ended the inning in order with a fly out to left.
Kipnis got the Indians into the hit column with a double that hit hard into the left field wall. While Lindor struck out on a pitch in the dirt, Napoli worked the count and eventually hit a full count offering to the gap in left center to score Kipnis from second. Against Ramirez, Heyward made an incredible diving play coming in from right to rob the Tribe’s third baseman of the Indians third hit. Doing his best Brandon Guyer impression, Chisenhall was hit by a pitch giving the Indians two on with two outs against Arrieta.
Through all this, Arrieta began to lose control for the first time and against Crisp, he threw one to the backstop that moved up Napoli and Chisenhall. Crisp walked to load the bases, but Naquin would ruin the fun for the third time in the night, striking out to strand the bases loaded.
Salazar stayed in for his second inning and two sides of infield defense were shown as Bryant was safe on an infield single and Ramirez robbed Rizzo with a foul out near the stands in left field. Bryant moved to second on a wild pitch during the Rizzo at bat. On another change-up, Salazar got his third strike out of the night against Zobrist. He would stay there as Salazar added one more K, this time looking against Russell.
Perez began the fifth against Arrieta by swinging at a pitch well outside the zone, then taking one in the zone for a strike out looking. Santana flew out to Rizzo at first for the second out. Even if no one else was interested in playing tonight, Kipnis wouldn’t go quietly and he launched an Arrieta pitch over the left field wall this time for the Tribe’s second run of the night. Lindor lined out to end the inning.
Salazar’s night ended after two scoreless innings and Jeff Manship floated in for the sixth. He struck out Contreras to start in a breaking ball heavy at bat, then Heyward flew out to Chisenhall in an otherwise uneventful fly out. Lindor made an incredible play to get in front of a ground ball hit by Baez, but had no chance to get the speedster at first. With this infield hit, Francona went again to his bullpen, this time to Zach McAllister. He would throw just one pitch to retire Heyward as Naquin had another adventure in the outfield that ended in an out.
Arrieta began the bottom half with another strike out of Napoli. Ramirez made solid contact the other way, but was easily out to Zobrist in left for the second out. Chisenhall worked a walk, which got Arrieta out of the game, but Mike Montgomery needed just one pitch to retire pinch hitter Brandon Guyer on a ground ball up the middle and end the inning.
After his short appearance in the sixth, McAllister stayed in against Schwarber and immediately gave up a line drive single to left. Bryant also took McAllister to left with a bloop single that landed just ahead of Guyer. McAllister recovered to get Rizzo on a pop out to right for the first out of the inning. Zobrist gave one a bit more of a jolt out to left, but Guyer was up to the task as he ran it down for the second out. A hard ground ball to Ramirez at third ended things as he picked it up and took it to the base for the final out.
With the left handed Montgomery still in, Francona went to his bench again, pulling the struggling Naquin for Rajai Davis. Davis wouldn’t last long, however, as he flew out to center. Perez worked a walk on a close pitch low, but stayed at first as Santana flew out to right. Kipnis moved him to second with a single, his third hit of the night and this prompted another move to the pen for Joe Madden, bringing in closer Aroldis Chapman to face Lindor. Lindor was aggressive against the new pitcher and hit a grounder to first on the second pitch. He raced Chapman to the base and was initially called safe as the live look seemed a tie, but replay showed conclusively that Chapman just barely reached the base first and the call was correctly overturned.
While Maddon was going to his closer in the five run game, Francona continued with his lesser relievers as Mike Clevinger replaced McAllister. He walked his first batter faced, Contreras, but got Heyward to ground into a double play on a 2-0 pitch. Clevinger then found the zone and struck out Baez looking to end the inning.
Chapman stayed in for the eighth and got Napoli on a check swing, the third time he had struck out during the night. Ramirez singled up the middle for the Tribe’s first hit against Chapman, then Francona went back to his bench to hit Yan Gomes for the lefty Chisenhall. This move went similarly to the rest of the Tribe’s in game six as Gomes grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Michael Martinez came in defensively for Gomes, moving into right field, as Clevinger stayed in the game to pitch the ninth. After facing just three batters in the eighth, Clevinger got two more outs with a Fowler ground ball and a Schwarber fly out to Davis in deep center. Bryant lined a single to left and if there was ever any doubt, Rizzo erased it with a mammoth shot to right to increase the lead back to seven. Zobrist would walk, but Clevinger finished the inning with a Russell ground out to Lindor at short.
Despite being up seven again, Chapman stayed in the game for the bottom half. After a walk of Guyer, however, Maddon would pull his closer for the right hander Pedro Strop. Davis let one fly to left, but Zobrist caught it in front of the wall for the first out of the ninth. Guyer moved up on a wild pitch and was able to score from second on a single by Perez. On the play, Perez tried to stretch it to a double, but was easily thrown out by Heyward for the second out of the inning and the Gold Glove right fielder’s second great play of the game.
Maddon was apparently the only one who didn’t realize that this game ended in the third as he pulled Strop after a walk of Santana, going to his fifth pitcher of the night, Travis Wood. Santana moved to second on the first pitch, but Kipnis popped out to Russell in foul territory near third base to end the game as the Cubs forced a game seven in the 2016 World Series.
Player of the Game – Addison Russell 2 for 5, 6 RBI, Grand Slam
Final Score: Chicago Cubs 9 – Cleveland Indians 3
On Deck: Despite taking a 3-1 lead in the series, the Cubs have found their offense and fought back to force a game seven. That game will take place at Progressive Field on Wednesday night at 8:08 PM and will feature Corey Kluber face off against Kyle Hendricks. Kluber has won both of his starts so far in the World Series while Hendricks lost his only appearance 1-0 in game three.