By Andrew Kahn
The Cubs raised the “W” flag at Wrigley after a World Series game for the first time since Game 6 in 1945. They beat the Indians 3-2 last night to keep their season alive and send the series back to Cleveland. The Indians must win one of the two games at home to win the series.
1. Chapman delivers
When Aroldis Chapman entered the game with one out in the seventh, I wondered if he was really going to finish the game. I have no problem with using your best reliever in a high-leverage situation—there was a runner on second with one out in a 3-2 game—but managers hardly ever do that if it means someone else will have to pitch the ninth. Chapman made sure Joe Maddon didn’t have to, setting personal highs for innings pitched, batters faced (10), and pitches thrown (42) to record his first eight-out save. The extended work meant he even batted for just the third time in his career (he struck out to move to 0-for-3 lifetime).
He hit a batter in the seventh but retired the other two he faced and pitched a perfect ninth, striking out the final batter for his fourth of the game. The eighth was a struggle. After getting the first man, Chapman failed to cover first on Rajai Davis’ grounder down the first base line. Davis stole second and, after Jason Kipnis flew out to left, stole third, taking both bags fairly easily. Chapman froze Francisco Lindor to end the threat.
2. Cubs come alive
Yesterday’s recap noted Chicago’s offense hadn’t been doing the little things (like moving runners over) or the big things (hitting homers) in this series like they had been previously. That remained the case through three innings last night, when they managed just one single and trailed 1-0. The fourth inning was different, as the Cubs showed some life for the first time since Game 2. Kris Bryant had been 1-for-15 in the series but led off the inning with a line drive home run to left-center. Anthony Rizzo followed with a long double and moved to third on Ben Zobrist’s single. Addison Russell hit a dribbler to third and beat it out; Rizzo scored. Jason Heyward struck out but Javier Baez, who has been chasing bad pitches all series, reached on a bunt to load the bases. David Ross, who was playing in his final game at Wrigley and making perhaps the final start of his career, hit a sac fly to left that scored Zobrist without a throw to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
3. Cleveland counters
The Indians squandered a good chance in the fifth, wasting a leadoff double, but applied the pressure again the sixth. Davis singled and stole second without a throw on a 1-0 pitch, knowing that Jon Lester refuses to attempt pick-off throws. As mentioned earlier, he stole two more bases in the eighth, becoming just the fourth player to swipe three bags in a World Series game. After the steal, Kipnis struck out looking—the strike zone was inconsistent all night—but Francisco Lindor, facing perhaps a flustered Lester, hit a high fastball into center to cut the deficit to 3-2. Lindor tried to steal but didn’t get a good jump and was out thanks to a quick throw by Ross and another beautiful tag from Baez.
4. Lester leaves
The Indians didn’t exactly knock out Lester, but they wore him down. Since his batting spot did not come up in the bottom of the sixth, it was surprising not to see him out there in the seventh. He had thrown 90 pitches, and every one was a grind, according to his postgame press conference. He said his last two innings were especially tough, and while Maddon told him they’d go batter by batter in the seventh, Lester decided it would make more sense to give a reliever a clean slate. Maddon went with Carl Edwards, Jr, who lasted just two batters, allowing a single (a passed ball moved the runner to second) and getting a fly out before Chapman entered.
5. Foul play
In a stadium that witnessed an infamous play in foul territory, there were several interesting “unfair” events in Game 5. The first batter of the game hit a fly down the right field line and the Indians relievers made no attempt to get out of Heyward’s way. The ball fell harmlessly. Next season, the bullpens will be under the Wrigley bleachers. Zobrist had to contend with the bullpen mound on a catch later in the game. Ross and Rizzo collided twice, first on a pop-up near the first-base dugout that ricocheted off the catcher’s glove and was snagged by Rizzo, then on another foul pop-up.
Heyward made a jumping catch near the wall in foul territory in the third. The fans in the seats never interfered, though the celebrity ticket-holders were shown on the broadcast early and often. In addition to series staples Bill Murray, Vince Vaughn, John Cusack, and Eddie Vedder, who sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the cameras spotted a focused Andre Dawson in a jacket with a large hood and Jim Harbaugh, with a Cubs hat and a glove. Back in Cleveland, Progressive Field was rocking. The stadium drew more than 67,000 people total for the three games at Wrigley, an average of more than 22,000. Cleveland averaged fewer than 20,000 fans during the regular season. All who watched Game 5 endured a 3-hour, 27-minute affair, which was, believe it or not, the second-fastest World Series game this year.
Andrew Kahn is a regular contributor to CBS Local. He writes about baseball and other sports at andrewjkahn.com and you can find his Scoop and Score podcast on iTunes. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @AndrewKahn
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