For the third time in this postseason the Chicago Cubs were shut out (Box Score). This time, it was a dominant performance by the Cleveland Indians’ ace, Corey Kluber. And While Kluber was busy getting all the calls that Lester wasn’t, the Indians were taking advantage.
It was the first inning that put the Cubs in a hole. Jon Lester had gotten two outs and looked to be well on his way to a clean inning. And then the wheels fell off. A single, followed by two walks, another single and a hit-by-pitch, and suddenly the Indians had scored two runs – in an inning that was nearly in the bag. That one hurt.
Out of curiosity – and because we have so many tools at our disposable – I looked at the strike-zone plots over at brooksbaseball.net to see if I could discern what seemed to be a not-so-generous strike zone for Jon Lester. Sure enough, he tossed four pitches that were clearly strikes but were called balls.
On the first walk Lester issued in the first inning, to Mike Napoli, Lester’s second pitch was a strike that was called a ball – you can see the plot for that at-bat below. That call – or lack thereof – changed that entire at-bat. Does that missed call change the entire inning? Perhaps, but unfortunately we’ll never know.
After that first inning, with Corey Kluber pitching, the Cubs could never put consecutive hits together. Ben Zobrist led off the second inning with a double, and then Kluber struck out the side. David Ross singled in the third inning but, again, Kluber struck out the side. Kyle Schwarber doubled in the fourth inning but no Cubs batter could get that one single they needed to break the ice and bring in the Cubs’ first run. It was frustrating to watch, no doubt.
There were, however, a few good things to come from this game, the kind of things that could make a difference later down the line. First, the Cubs got to Andrew Miller. He threw 46 pitches, more then he’s thrown in relief all year. They made him work and, while Miller ended up coming out on top in the end, throwing that many pitches likely means the Cubs won’t have to face Miller again Wednesday.
The second positive was that Kyle Schwarber had some very quality at-bats, hit a ball deep for a double – not far from being a home run – and drew a walk off Andrew Miller. You can bet that those at-bat’s will have Schwarber full of confidence going into game two.
Stats that matter
- Jon Lester got off to a rough start but settled down after – 5.2IP, 3R, 6H, 7Ks, HR
- Hector Rondon came on in the eighth inning and gave up a two-run home run and a double. That concerns me.
- Ben Zobrist was the Cubs’ lone shining star on offense – 3-for-4, 2B
- Kyle Schwarber had some good AB’s but not at the right time to drive in Zobrist – 1-for-3, BB, 2B
This was a tough loss, any way you look at it. I am encouraged to know that the Cubs likely did enough to knock Miller out of game two. This would be a great time to jump on the Indians bullpen, if they can get past Trevor Bauer. Look for the Cubs to come out swinging early and hopefully tack on some runs in the first two or three innings.
Game two of the 2016 World Series has been moved up due to rain that’s being forecast in Cleveland. The game will start one hour earlier than originally planned. Game time is 6:08 PM CT and Jake Arrieta – boy, is he due for a dominant performance – will take the ball for the Cubs.