There are very few things better in sports than a Game 7. The table is set for another one tonight at Progressive Field as the Cubs have come back from down from 3-1 in the series, after a 9-3 win in Game 6 last night. It makes the game an even more must watch with the fact that it has been a combined 174 years since the two teams have won a World Series.
The Cubs bats were awake early last night in Cleveland, as they put up seven runs in the first three frames thanks, in part, to a horrible miscommunication in right-center field between Indians outfielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin and a grand slam off the bat of Addison Russell. With 6 RBIs, Russell tied Albert Pujols, Hideki Matsui, and Bobby Richardson for the most in a single World Series game. Kris Bryant hit a solo shot in the 1st inning to open the scoring and Anthony Rizzo added a two run shot in the top of the 9th to stretch the lead back to seven runs. Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta went 5.2 innings, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and striking out 9, outlasting opponent Josh Tomlin, who only lasted 2.1 innings, giving up 6 runs.
In a startling move, Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon called up his closer Aroldis Chapman, only 2 days after an eight-out, 44 pitch save, the longest of his career. The only explanation that Maddon provided in a post-game interview with FOX Sport’s Tom Verducci was that reliever Pedro Strop wasn’t ready to come into the game at that point, so he called upon Chapman to pitch the 8th and back out to start the 9th.
A champion will be crowned Wednesday night, with a lucky fan base witnessing history. The Cubs, as a result of the well publicized Curse of the Billy Goat, are looking for their first title since 1908, while the Indians have not won it all since the fall of 1948. Kyle Hendricks will be on the mound for Chicago, going up against 18-game winner Corey Kluber, who pitched the Tribe to victory in Games 1 and 4. A third victory for Kluber in the Series would make him the tenth all-time, and the first since Mickey Lolich of the 1968 Detroit Tigers, who threw three complete games in Games 2, 5, and 7, with a 1.68 ERA and 21 strikeouts.
Chapman told reporters after the win last night that he will be ready to go tonight without any limitations, even though he has thrown 4 innings combined in Games 5 and 6, helping the Cubs force a decisive Game 7. On the other hand, Cleveland manager Terry Francona was able to keep his three-headed monster of a bullpen, Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen rested, as Shaw and Allen have not pitched since Sunday. Miller has been off since throwing 2 innings in Game 4 on Saturday. I doubt that either manager will hold back tonight, it’s the last game of the season, it’s November, and it’s for history.