The World Series will be decided in a winner-take-all seventh game after the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians 9-2 Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
The heart of the Cubs’ batting order feasted on Indians pitching in Game 6. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell went a combined 11-for-19 with three home runs and a double.
Bryant hit a solo homer in the first inning and the Cubs scored two more runs when a miscommunication in the outfield resulted in Russell’s fly ball falling for a double. On the play, center fielder Tyler Naquin and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall each appeared to think the other was going to make the catch, but neither took charge. Rizzo and Zobrist scored, and a throwing error on the relay by Jason Kipnis allowed Russell to go to third. All the runs scored with two outs.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin lasted just two 2 1/3 innings. In the third, he walked Kyle Schwarber and gave up a pair of one-out singles to load the bases before Indians manager Terry Francona took him out. With Dan Otero pitching in relief, Russell made it 7-0 with the first World Series grand slam in Cubs history.
Chicago starting pitcher Jake Arrieta allowed a first-inning walk to Francisco Lindor, but struck out five of the first 10 batters he faced.
Arrieta didn’t give up a hit until the fourth, when Kipnis doubled off the wall in left field. After Lindor struck out, Mike Napoli singled to drive in Kipnis. Jason Heyward made the second out with a diving catch on a line drive to left.
The Indians tried to mount a two-out rally. An Arrieta pitch hit Chisenhall and a passed ball gave Cleveland runners on second and third. Coco Crisp walked to load the bases, but Naquin struck out.
Kipnis trimmed the Cubs’ lead to five runs with a solo home run in the fifth. That would be as close the Indians would get to the catching the Cubs in Game 6, but Chicago manager Joe Maddon would take no chances with the lead in an elimination game. When the Indians got two on with two outs in the seventh, he went to his closer. Aroldis Chapman got Lindor to ground out to first and faced the minimum in the eighth with the help of a double play.
The Cubs added two more runs in the top of the ninth on a single by Bryant – his fourth hit of the game – and homer by Rizzo.
Chapman started the ninth while Pedro Strop warmed up in the bullpen. Strop came in after Chapman walked Brandon Guyer, who advanced on a fly out by Rajai Davis and scored on a hit by Roberto Perez. Perez was thrown out by Heyward trying stretch his single into a double.
After Strop walked Carlos Santana, Maddon made one more pitching change. Travis Wood entered and got Kipnis to pop out to short for the final out.
Arrieta earned his second win of the World Series, pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on three hits and three walks. He struck out nine batters.
Tomlin took the loss and was charged with six earned runs on six hits and a walk.
Game 7 will be at 5 p.m. PT at Progressive Field in Cleveland. As he did in Game 4, Corey Kluber (18-0, 3.14 ERA) will pitch on three-days’ rest. Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) will start for the Cubs.
World Series notes:
- Chapman threw 20 pitches Tuesday night, meaning he may not be available to pitch an extended relief outing in Game 7. However, it will be an all-hands-on-deck situation and the Cubs should have starters Jon Lester and John Lackey available out of the ‘pen, if needed.
- The Indians may have the upper hand if Game 7 turns into a battle of the bullpens. Andrew Miller last pitched on Saturday and will be well-rested. He could pitch three innings, if needed. Francona will also have dependable arms Bryan Shaw and closer Cody Allen available to get more than three outs apiece. Neither pitched on Tuesday.
- Rizzo is a big reason why the Cubs have won two games facing elimination. He went 6-for-11 with two doubles, a home run and a walk in games 4, 5 and 6 after going just 2-for-11 with a double and two walks in the first three games of the World Series.