In any other year, the biggest story of the World Series would be the dominance of the Cleveland Indians’ pitching staff.
But this isn’t a typical World Series. This World Series is about history, because both teams are making it. It’s about the fans, most of whom have been waiting a lifetime to see their team win a title. Most of all, it’s about the Chicago Cubs – who are in the World Series for the first time since 1945, are trying to become champions for the first time since 1908, and are the only team in all of sports that might be a more lovable underdog than the Indians.
On what will be remembered as the greatest sports night the city of Cleveland has ever had, the Cavaliers received their championship rings, raised their championship banner to the Quicken Loans Arena rafters, and routed the New York Knicks to open the 2016-17 NBA regular season. Meanwhile, right next door at Progressive Field, Corey Kluber mowed down the mighty Cubs for a 6-0 victory to open the 2016 World Series.
Kluber set a World Series record by striking out eight batters – of a possible nine – in the first three innings. He left the game to an appreciative ovation after one batter in the seventh, having allowed just four hits and no walks against nine strikeouts.
The shutout was the Indians’ fourth in these playoffs – an astonishing total, considering Cleveland has played just nine postseason games, winning eight of them. Three of those shutouts have come with Kluber starting, but the Indians also blanked the Toronto Blue Jays in the pennant clincher with Ryan Merritt throwing 4 1/3 innings in just his second major-league start.
In 80 postseason innings, Cleveland has allowed a “crooked number” – more than one run in an inning – just once, and its airtight defense has committed just one error. When catcher Roberto Perez launched a three-run homer in the eighth against the Cubs, it marked the first time the Indians have scored after the sixth inning of any game this postseason. Their bullpen has been posting zero after zero, so they haven’t needed any late-inning rallies to move three victories away from their first World Series championship since 1948.
The winner of Game 1 has won the World Series 12 of the last 13 years. And the team with home-field advantage has won 24 of the last 30 World Series. Both trends bode well for Cleveland.
The only drawback for Cleveland in Game 1 was that Andrew Miller, MVP of the American League Championship Series, looked human. Miller took the mound with a man on and nobody out in the seventh, having struck out 21 of the 41 batters he had faced this October. But protecting a three-run lead in his two innings of work, Miller issued two walks and needed 46 pitches, a total he had not reached in any relief appearance since 2011. The lopsided game’s high point of drama came when Miller escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the seventh.
Posted October 26, 2016
Sources: Fox Sports, mlb.com, si.com, sportsonearth.com