Big hits by Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana powered the Cleveland Indians over the Chicago Cubs 7-2 on Saturday night in Game 4 of the World Series. The Indians have won the first two of three games to be played at Chicago’s Wrigley Field and are one win away from their first world championship since 1948.
In the early going, it looked like it might be the Cubs’ night. John Lackey faced the minimum and struck out two in the top of the first inning. Then, Dexter Fowler started off the Cubs’ half with a double that fell just out of reach of a diving Rajai Davis in left field. One out later, Anthony Rizzo’s single to center brought Fowler home.
But the Cubs’ lead didn’t last long. Santana led off the second inning with a home run to left and two throwing errors by Kris Bryant helped put the Indians ahead.
With one out, Bryant reacted quickly to get to a sharp grounder by Lonnie Chisenhall, but the throw to first base sailed over Rizzo’s head. Chisenhall moved to second on a ground out by Roberto Perez. With first base open, Lackey intentionally walked the No. 8 hitter, Tyler Naquin, to get to the opposing pitcher, Corey Kluber. With two outs, Kluber chopped a grounder that was fielded by Bryant, but the rushed throw to first went wide of Rizzo. The Cubs’ first baseman was able to get a glove on it, but Chisenhall scored as the ball rolled toward the outfield grass.
In the third, the Indians made it 3-1. Kipnis led off with a double and Francisco Lindor drove him in with a single to center.
Lackey settled down after that, retiring the last eight batters he faced. The Cubs’ bullpen, though, pitched into problems in the sixth and seventh.
Mike Montgomery walked Lindor, the first batter he faced, and Santana reached on a come-backer that knocked the glove off Montgomery’s hand. Lindor went to third when Jose Ramirez grounded into a force play at second, and Chisenhall‘s sacrifice fly made it 4-1. After Perez walked, Montgomery was replaced by Justin Grimm, who struck out Brandon Guyer, batting for Naquin.
In the seventh, Coco Crisp, who drove in the only run in Game 3, collected his second pinch hit of the series – a lead-off double to center field. Then, Grimm’s control betrayed him. A wild pitch allowed Crisp to go third and Davis was awarded first on an inside pitch that hit him on the arm.
Grimm was relieved by Travis Wood, who gave up a three-run blast by Kipnis. That put the Indians up by six with Andrew Miller warming up in the Tribe bullpen.
Miller retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh, but in the eighth, he surrendered a solo homer by Fowler – the only run the left-hander has allowed in 17 postseason innings.
Addison Russell singled with one out in the ninth, but Dan Otero closed out the win for the Indians by getting Jayson Heyward to pop out to short, followed by a groundout by Baez.
Lackey took the loss for the Cubs, allowing three runs – two of them earned – on four hits and one walk. He struck out five.
Working on three days’ rest, Kluber gave up a run on two hits in the first, but then held the Cubs to five baserunners through the remainder of his six innings. He struck out six while allowing one earned run on five hits and one walk. The American League Cy Young Award candidate picked up his second win of the World Series.
Game 5 is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT Sunday in Chicago. Right-hander Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA) will start for Cleveland. Bauer was the losing pitcher in Game 2. He allowed two runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. Left-hander Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44) will start for the Cubs. He gave up three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings in the Cubs’ loss in Game 1.
If the Cubs stave off elimination on their home field on Sunday, the World Series goes back to Cleveland on Tuesday. Progressive Field would host games 6 and 7.
World Series notes:
• With his start in Game 4, Lackey has now pitched in three World Series with three teams. He won World Series rings with the Anaheim Angels in 2002 and with the Boston Red Sox in 2013. He pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series in 2014, but that team lost to the eventual world champions, the San Francisco Giants.
• When Miller struck out Rizzo and Ben Zobrist for the final two outs of the eighth inning, he set a new record for most strikeouts by a reliever in a single postseason with 29. The previous record-holder was Francisco Rodriguez, who struck out 28 for the Angels in 2002.
• Playing without the designated hitter at the National League champion’s ballpark has forced Indians manager Terry Francona to shift players around to keep Santana’s bat in the lineup. Santana, who had an .865 OPS and 34 home runs this season, started at first base in Game 4 after playing in left field in Game 3.
• Lindor collected two hits Saturday and is 7-for-15 (.467) in the World Series.
• Cubs catcher Willson Contreras went 0-for-4, striking out three times on Saturday. He has just one hit – a double in Game 1 – in 13 World Series at-bats. He walked twice in Game 2.