Cleveland Indians draw first blood in World Series

Chicago Cubs undone by pitching of Corey Kluber who sets up opening 6-0 victory

In the lead up to a World Series that is seen by many as a battle of Midwestern grit, the debate has often been about which of the teams – Cleveland or Chicago – has had a tougher history in baseball.

On the one hand, Cleveland haven’t won the World Series since 1948, though they had a couple of close losses in the 1990s. The Chicago Cubs on the other hand, haven’t won since 1908, though they have made some close runs a dozen or so times since.

After Game 1, it is the Cubs fans who are feeling the familiar sting of defeat as they witnessed their team go down to a 6-0 loss.

By scoring two runs in the first innings – on little more than a few hits and some lucky running – the Indians took the lead and never gave it up. Tribe pitcher Corey Kluber, the 2014 Cy Young Award winner, kept the Cubs batters off base, and lasted into the seventh inning. That allowed Indians manager Terry Francona to get into his strong bullpen later in the game, to keep the Chicago players from getting out in front of any of the Cleveland pitchers.


And to add to the strangeness of the game, the Indians were able to do just enough battling off Cubs' star pitcher Jon Lester to take the opening game. Lester was a star this past year, with the former Boston red Sox pitcher going 19-5 for the Cubs. But he gave up two runs in the first inning and put his team behind from the beginning. Kluber, who went 18-9 this year, excelled striking out eight Cubs in the first three innings - a record in the World Series. "When Kluber is going good, there aren't other pitchers like him with the movement of his ball, and he showed that tonight very clearly," said Francona after the game.

It was an odd night for Cleveland, as the city’s NBA team, the Cavaliers, opened their season with a celebration of the title they won this summer gone. It was the city’s first sports title since 1964, and put some pressure on the Indians who are battling a Cubs team that most pundits think will dominate their American League counterparts.

But in many ways it was a typical game for the Indians this year. Once again, Francona played his usual managerial optimum choices: get six decent innings out of his starting pitcher, and then turn the game over to his star studded pitchers from the bullpen.

Once again, Andrew Miller dominated the game, retiring the Cubs in the seventh and eighth innings before turning the game over to Indians closer Cody Allen. Miller was acquired by the Indians in July from the New York Yankees, and Francona has used him in a variety of ways to dominate in different innings out of the bullpen. His final batter was Cubs designated hitter Kyle Schwarber in the eighth inning, and Miller struck him out with men on first and third bases.

Miller was certainly not dominant, but he fit in perfectly into what Francona wanted. The Cubs have a very powerful group of batters, but the Indians pitchers kept them from dominating. Chicago were not only held to just six hits, they rarely looked like scoring.

Of course, the Indians still needed to score and the majority of their runs came from an unlikely source. Roberto Perez, a catcher not known for his power, scored a solo homer in the fourth then put the game out of reach by hammering a three-run rocket to left field in the eighth to put the Tribe up 6-0.

But whatever the Cubs' history, their manager Joe Maddon is confident his team can look forward to the immediate future. "They pitched really well tonight. But I have no real concern, because it is the first game and we're fine. I have confidence in our guys," said Maddon afterwards. With a far stronger batch of pitchers than the Indians, he may well be proved right.

(Guardian service)