Indians a win away from World Series crown

Beat Cubs 7-2 to take 3-1 series lead
Cleveland Indians left fielder Coco Crisp (left) celebrates with second baseman Jason Kipnis after Kipnis hit a three-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 4 of the World Series Saturday Wrigley Field.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Cleveland Indians left fielder Coco Crisp (left) celebrates with second baseman Jason Kipnis after Kipnis hit a three-run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning of Game 4 of the World Series Saturday Wrigley Field.

For six months at Wrigley Field, the sun beat down and the suds flowed, and the world was awash in possibility, possibility that had so rarely been considered over generations. The little park at the corner of Addison and Clark was the epicenter of the baseball world, and who was having more fun than Chicago Cubs fans?

Sunday night, Wrigley will host its 89th and final baseball game of the year. If the Cubs don’t win it, the phrase this franchise was trying so hard to rid itself of — Wait till next year! — will regain its rightful place in the local lexicon.

The Cleveland Indians’ blitz through October continued Saturday night, and by this point it is obvious that the obstacle with which they must deal doesn’t matter one bit. They thoroughly beat the Cubs in Game 4 of the World Series, 7-2, and they now have a three-games-to-one advantage. There is now, for the Cubs, the unsavory possibility that this unforgettable summer at the 102-year-old ballpark will end with another team dancing across their infield, celebrating a championship on their dirt.

The only team that could do that: these Indians, who have fairly dominated the sport over its most important month. Saturday night, as Cleveland won for the 10th time in 12 postseason games, ace Corey Kluber threw six innings of one-run ball on three days’ rest, Carlos Santana had three hits including a solo homer, and second baseman Jason Kipnis finished things off with a three-run blast in the seventh, one that turned something that resembled a ballgame into a slog-to-the-finish blowout.

The Indians have arrived here, considered the Cubs’ supposed superiority and collectively shrugged. If it’s really “Cleveland against the world,” the world is losing, and badly. In those dozen postseason games, the Indians have scored nearly twice as many runs as their opponents, a

42-22 margin that is dominating, and shows that–if indeed this becomes their first championship since 1948–it will be well-deserved.

But what of Wrigley, so boisterous all summer, so quiet when even the hint of adversity arises now? The Cubs’ dynamic young lineup has disappeared for long stretches, and now at the worst possible time. In their last nine games, the Cubs have been shut out four times and scored just one run once. Joe Maddon, their manager, openly lamented his team’s undisciplined at-bats in Friday’s 1-0 loss, in which his kids expanded the strike zone.

If there can be a key exchange in what became a six-run Cleveland lead, it came in that top of the second, not long after Santana had tied it 1-1. With two outs and a runner on second–there by virtue of Kris Bryant’s errant throw from third–Tyler Naquin, the Indians’ eighth-place hitter, came to the plate. One approach might have been: playoff veteran John Lackey is better than rookie Tyler Naquin, who is hitting .200 in the playoffs. Maddon instead chose to intentionally walk Naquin to get to Kluber, who had just six plate appearances with one hit (and two sacrifice bunts) this year.

The problem: Lackey fell behind Kluber 3-1 and then came with three straight two-seam fastballs. Kluber fouled two of them off, including one grounded hard down the third base line, nearly a double, barely foul. On the fourth straight two-seamer, Kluber hacked again and sent a spinner toward Bryant at third base.

Bryant charged, but his throw was both late — Kluber was credited with a single — and, worse, wide. Rizzo knocked it down but he couldn’t pick it up before Lonnie Chisenhall raced around from second to score.

That gave the Indians a 2-1 lead, one that grew to 3-1 on Francisco Lindor’s third-inning single, one that grew to 4-1 on Chisenhall’s sixth-inning sacrifice fly.

Wait till next year? For now, it’s wait till tonight

What those fans know is that it will be the old yard’s last game of the year.

What’s to be determined is whether another team ends up in a human pig pile at its center, exorcising the kind of demons the Cubs wanted to purge themselves.

CLEVELAND CHICAGO

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Davis lf 4 1 0 0 Fowler cf 4 2 2 1

Kipnis 2b 5 2 3 3 Bryant 3b 3 0 0 0

Lindor ss 4 1 2 1 Rizzo 1b 3 0 2 1

Santana 1b 4 1 3 1 Zobrist lf 4 0 0 0

Miller rp 0 0 0 0 Contrrs c 4 0 0 0

Martinz ph 1 0 0 0 Russell ss 4 0 1 0

Otero rp 0 0 0 0 Heyward rf 4 0 2 0

Ramirez 3b 5 0 0 0 Baez 2b 4 0 0 0

Chsnhll rf 3 1 0 1 Lackey sp 1 0 0 0

Perez c 3 0 0 0 Coghlan ph 1 0 0 0

Naquin cf 1 0 0 0 Mntgmry rp 0 0 0 0

Guyer ph 2 0 0 0 Grimm rp 0 0 0 0

Kluber sp 2 0 1 0 Wood rp 0 0 0 0

Crisp ph 1 1 1 0 AlmorJr ph 1 0 0 0

Napoli 1b 1 0 0 0 Rondon rp 0 0 0 0

Totals 36 7 10 6 Totals 33 2 7 2

Cleveland 021 001 300 — 7

Chi. Cubs 100 000 010 — 2

E—Bryant 1. LOB—Chicago 6, Cleveland 7. 2B—Crisp (1), Fowler (5), Kipnis (2), Rizzo (4). HR—Fowler (2), Kipnis (3), C.Santana (3). SB—Rizzo (2).

IP H R ER BB SO

Cleveland

Kluber W, 4-1 6 5 1 1 1 6

A.Miller 2 1 1 1 0 2

Otero 1 1 0 0 0 0

Chi. Cubs

Lackey L, 0-1 5 4 3 2 1 5

Montgomery 2-3 1 1 1 2 0

Grimm 1-3 1 2 2 0 1

T.Wood 1 2 1 1 0 2

H.Rondon 2 2 0 0 0 2

Inherited runners-scored—Grimm 2-0, T.Wood 2-2. HBP—Rizzo (by Kluber), R.Davis (by Grimm). WP—Grimm (1).

Umpires—Home, Marvin Hudson; First, Tony Randazzo; Second, Joe West; Third, Sam Holbrook.

T—3:16. A—41,706 (42,157).

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