Fight Another Day: Cubs 3, Indians 2

Coming into tonight's game, my biggest fear was that the Cubs would come out flat at the plate again, and shuffle away quietly after such a dominant season. Intellectually, I didn't think it would happen, but there was still this lurking fear that we would all see the season end that way. And, to be honest, when Jose Ramirez hit his solo home run in the 2nd inning, and the Cubs offense looked dormant again, I felt like I was watching a pet die slowly.

But instead, the Cubs were themselves again. They played solid defense, they strung hits together, and they flashed power when they needed it. But, of course, it wasn't all that simple. Aroldis Chapman pitched nearly three innings and even went to the plate in lieu of a pinch hitter in the 8th inning. Dexter Fowler took a pitch off of his foot and then somehow still stole a base. Jason Heyward lasered a single and then stole two bases. It was all the things that make baseball simple and great and all the things that make it wild and unpredictable.

The key tonight was just winning an inning. The last three games of the NLCS are not the norm in postseason baseball because more often than not, a run or two is the difference, like we saw tonight. That inning came for the Cubs in the 4th, when they'd score three runs and create enough of a cushion to hold off Cleveland and fight another day.

The 4th inning started with a home run from Kris Bryant and then a double off of the wall from Anthony Rizzo. Just like you want to see from this offense. These two can propel the rest of the team by themselves, and they did that tonight. Ben Zobrist kept the line moving with a single that moved Rizzo to third, and then Addison Russell's infield single scored Rizzo. Jason Heyward struck out for the first out of the inning, but Javier Baez kept the inning going with his bunt single to load the bases. With a now 2-1 lead, David Ross came up to bat in his final game at Wrigley and possibly his final game of his career, and he did not disappoint. He hit the ball deep to left field to score Zobrist on a sacrifice fly, and it's 3-1, Cubs.

Cleveland grabbed another run to narrow the lead in the 6th on a one out single from Rajai Davis, who would score on Francisco Lindor's two out single because he had been able to steal second base. But Lindor would ironically end that inning in the very next at bat when he got nabbed at second base on a steal attempt.

But the real story tonight might be the pitching. Jon Lester threw a phenomenal game. He struck out the side to begin things, worked out of a jam in the 5th inning, and then turned the game over the Carl Edwards, Jr. Edwards was only needed for an out, and then Aroldis Chapman took things from there. In the 7th inning with just one out recorded, it's Chapman's game to finish. Joe Maddon was plain in his postgame press conference that he had fully intended on letting Chapman get the eight out save, and he did it. Even when it meant he had to strap on a batting helmet and go to the plate against Cleveland's closer, he did it.

Cubs win and force Game Six.


Source: FanGraphs

Run prevention

Instrumental in winning a close World Series game like this one is making the hard defensive plays sometimes. That may have been the dagger last night, but in just tonight's game, we saw all of the following:

  1. Jason Heyward's catch against the wall in right field
  2. Anthony Rizzo's diving stop at first. Though Aroldis Chapman didn't remember to cover the bag, Rizzo still saved that from being a much more dangerous hit.
  3. Ben Zobrist's catch in left by the bullpen. An easy ball to misplay and extend a potentially key at bat.
  4. David Ross throwing out Lindor. For all the hubbub about Jon Lester's yips and the struggles with holding runners, Ross still always keeps 'em honest.
  5. David Ross/Anthony Rizzo juggling catch. On a night when that catch goes your way, you have to win.
  6. Javy Baez's quick tag. We've been seeing it all season, and even as he's struggled mightily at the plate and showing us flashes of his 2014 self, his defense is tantamount to the Cubs' success right now.
  7. Kris Bryant's diving stop and then throw to first. Credit Bryant's throw and credit Rizzo for getting the ball and then getting his foot back to the bag.

Questioning Maddon

Hindsight makes it especially easy, but even after a win, there were a couple of spots where I wondered about Maddon's decision-making. I wondered at pinch hitting for David Ross and pulling Jon Lester as early as he did, and I wondered to at the decision to let Chapman bat with Heyward in scoring position and Kyle Schwarber just lurking there in the dugout.

But I'm reminded that sitting on my couch I have access to such a limited amount of the information that goes into these decisions. The Cubs won and these things fade in our memories, and maybe it's best to remember that a part of being a manager means committing to a plan and sticking with it. As fans, we are probably too often reactionary, especially in the moment.

"Don't let us win."

Coming back from being down three games to one is not without precedent, and for as easy as things look for Cleveland going into the game, the pressure is actually all on them. This is their series to lose. And while returning to Ohio for the final two games of the series might seem like a clear advantage, let's pause to remember who returns to the lineup for Game Six:

And let us pause and remember who will be pitching Game Six:

Don't let us win, Cleveland. It'd be a darned shame to have to go to Game Seven and have to try and beat this guy:

Random Reference

Rock on, Cubs. Rock on.


Three Stars of Game
Third Star- Jon Lester (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 5 K)

Lester did exactly what he needed to today. There are probably too many good players on this team for us to always get the chance to really appreciate some of the individuals. Lester is one of those for me. I'm not sure we're always aware of just how good he's been since coming to Chicago.

Second Star- Kris Bryant (1 for 3, BB, HR)

He made a pretty brilliant diving stop and throw from third base as well, and even his strikeouts tonight came on questionable calls.

First Star- Aroldis Chapman (2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 4 K)

And he batted. Again I say it: he went to the plate.

Filed under: Game Recap

Tags: postseason, World Series

Comments

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  • After tonight's win Nate Silver has us at:

    Game 6: 52% win probability
    Game 7: 45% win probability
    Series: 24% win probability (up 9% from yesterday)

  • In reply to wthomson:

    And a win on Tuesday night would tilt things much more in our favor. I love the prospect of Hendricks going against Kluber in Game 7.

  • In reply to Jared Wyllys:

    I like the Cubs batters chances seeing Kluber a third time in a week and a half. Same with the Cleveland's bullpen.

  • In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    Not to mention Kluber pitching on short rest for the second time in the series.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Outstanding. It SHOULDN'T be easy for the Cubs to break the 108 year draught. It's supposed to be hard. It's supposed to hurt along the way. It'll mean more in the end

  • It seems to me that our old friend Joe West could have called interference on the Cleveland bullpen on the first play of the game. Cost Lester an extra 5 pitches.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    And old friend is behind the plate Tuesday night :(

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    In reply to Wickdipper:

    Everyone hates him. So that's a wash.

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Joe West was the first base umpire It should have been the umpire
    down the right field line.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    Looked to me like West was the closest ump to the play. In any case, Heyward actually made sliding contact with one of the Cleveland pitchers(?) while attempting the catch. How is that not interference?

  • In reply to wthomson:

    Those players have a right to be there, so unless they specifically impede they cannot be called for interference. I not sure if they have to get out of the way. It's there bullpen.

  • The Cubs and Phil Collins: Not Dead Yet.

    Definitely the most intense Cubs game I've ever watched. What a catch by Heyward and what a job by Chapman.

  • That was stressful! I'm hoping Jake is on on Tuesday. And I feel good that the second time the Cubs see Tomlin they'll rough him up. He's on short rest and Schwarber is back! Chapman! W: 2.

  • Heyward Is a good ballplayer, if he could just hit a little, he would be a great player. He is such a good base runner and stole three tonight. Great catches, throws runners out and always a smart player. I don't know what happens in Cleveland, but I sure didn't want them celebrating in Wrigley.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    When I see the slow mo replays of his swing, it appears that whenever he makes contact with the ball, his arms are fully extended away from his body. He loses pop when he does that.
    I hope Mallee retools that swing over the winter. The dude is a physical specimen and should be able to hit 20+ homers a year.

  • In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    I totally agree with John Smoltz Heywards hands are to high and his swing is too big of a loop. That is why he either ground balls(swinging at low pitches) or hits fly balls(swinging at highpitches)
    He always seems to take a pitch right down the middle. Just like Smoltz said first pitch fast balls need to be attacked

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    Rizzo also picked a few balls that skipped to him, one from Russell comes to mind. He had a terrific game.
    With Heyward, it seems that when someone signs a big money contract the first year they try so hard to live up to it they play worse--the 2nd year is much better. Lester pitched well last year but this year is lights out. I hope Heyward shows the same improvement.
    I'm glad Joe is being more aggressive with his base runners. Our problem has been getting on base; if we can do that we put the pressure on their pitchers and catchers.
    I'm looking forward to Great Jake on Tues.
    Go Cubs!!

  • Love how aggressive they were on the bases today. If a team is going to throw non-fastballs 2/3 of the time then take those extra bases with your good base runners.

  • In reply to Teddy KGB:

    I have been wondering all season when they were going to be more aggressive stealing bases. I'm glad to see it and hope they continue.

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    In reply to Teddy KGB:

    I am surprised. All the talk about how the Indians are so great at stealing bases and they have 4 SB with 2 CS. The Cubs have 6 SB and 0 CS.

  • THE most excruciating and exciting Cubs game I've ever watched. Hats off to the entire team!

  • Chapman made himself a lot of money last night!

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    In reply to Hagsag:

    That's about what I was thinking. I believe he came in with the tieing run on base and held on for 8 outs. That is PRETTY SOLID.

  • In reply to Hagsag:

    There are still a lot of people who would rather have Torres back instead of having Chapman now. If they end up losing the series those people will show up. I'm glad we have Chapman but I was nervous when he came in the game that early. Let's get them Tuesday!

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    In reply to lets go cubs:

    I am one who would LOVE to have Torres back. However, if we don't have Chapman we are probably not at this stage. Remember, for much of August we didn't have Rondon nor Strop. Chapman helped stabilize things when we could have easily gone into a tailspin.

    And imagine what the pundits would be saying with Miller's success if we hadn't acquired Chapman (though I still contend what we gave the Yankees for Chapman was better than they got for Miller).

    And, hindsight is always 20/20. If we win the WS it will be seen as "the final piece in the puzzle." If we don't win the WS it will be seen possibly as "waste" but I think it will be seen as an important move.

    What I do respect Theo and Jed for is their willingness to go for it when they get the opportunity. I am sure they know better than any of us just how good Torres (and McKinney etc.) are. But NO ONE has argued that they would help the team win the WS this year. As the Front Office has said many times, they have built the team for sustained success but each opportunity needs to be grasped as best they can. I think 2015 caught them by surprise. This year they were expecting to win so they went for it.

    In the short run the Cubs have unquestionably done well in this trade. We will see in 5-7 years how things work out. If McKinney becomes a back up outfielder and Torres becomes a utility infielder or something like that then I think the Cubs "won" the trade. If Torres becomes a 5x All-Star and heart and soul of a dynasty it becomes harder to swallow (though we can always say, "We got something out of Chapman"). Checking on publicly available scouting reports mlb pipeline has Torres rated 55 (pretty good) with 55-60 grades in all but "Power." Conversely, Fangraphs has him listed as a 45 future value without a 60 grade on anything and several below 50 grades. In short, a below average player.

    I don't foresee McKinney having had much future with the Cubs. His defense seems to have been kind of limiting (not enough arm for RF, not enough speed for CF, not enough power for LF). I am fine with trading a 4th/5th outfielder.

    Crawford was/is SO far away from what he will be that I am going to withhold all judgment of him at this point. I think he was a sweetener, though I could be wrong.

    Warren just was never who the Cubs hoped he would be. If we want to say, "Really we traded them Castro too," then I am fine with that. For all of Castro's attributes I believe that Zobrist was a clear upgrade this season.

    We are going into Game 6 of the WS alive and kicking--if just barely. Without Chapman I doubt I am able to say that. For that reason I say, "I would LOVE to have those guys back in the fold!" but if you told me that Chapman would be a critical member of the team going into Game 6 of the WS I make that trade 11 times out of 10. Theo and Jed said this would be a year where we would trade some of our prospects and it would hurt. And they were right. And it did/does.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Just for the record, and I wanted to comment on this after the Chapman trade, but I never got around to it. It is logically incorrect to claim that we also traded Castro in the Chapman trade. The trade was Warren, Torres, McKinney, and Crawford for Chapman. If we want to include the Warren for Castro trade, then it becomes Castro, Torres, McKinney and Crawford for Chapman. Since Warren was with NYY before the Castro trade and after the Chapman trade, Warren never changed teams if you include the Castro-Warren trade in the analysis.

    Not badgering you, Joel, just pointing out an error in analysis that others posted back in July.

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    I agree and sorry I didn't make that clearer. I meant it as "If we want to include Castro INSTEAD OF Warren." I did not mean "IN ADDITION TO Warren" but I didn't make that clear.

    But your point is well made and well taken. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    No matter how you slice and dice the hypotheticals of the Castro trade, you cannot do that without including Zobrist in the equation. Castro was traded first and formost as a salary dump - to save them $36 million ( or $9 million a year) to sign Zo - a much better fit - for four years.

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    In reply to cubbustible:

    I am fine with including Zobrist in the Castro trade. And in another comment I say that this ended up a net positive in my mind.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    When it comes to trades, I love Theo's saying that they aren't trying to win trades, they are trying to win championships.

    In reality, most trades like this could be viewed as a loss if you don't consider pushing over the top.

  • In reply to Gerald:

    Exactly. Not to relitigate, but when the trade was discussed so many people kept talking about "value." Who is going to get the most "value," as if the Cubs were an investment club. It's about winning, and where you are in the success cycle.

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    I think discussing "value" is a valid question in a situation where we are acquiring a player for a couple months at the cost of possibly solid players for YEARS of cost control. To disregard it as treating the trade like an "investment club" sounds short-sighted to me. But if I recall you and I had several exchanges (and enjoyable ones) during the trade deadline.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    There are nuisances, obviously. For example, how much "value" is the first World Series in 108 years? Or how much value does Torres really have to the Cubs, considering, in my mind, he is blocked? But the argument at the tie. seemed to be framed almost exclusively around "value" as if making deals was all about getting value, like an investment club. As Gerald and Theo point out, it is about winning. Anyway, enough. I'm very happy Theo is in charge.

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    Looking back on the trade it certainly has worked out. And there is a line of reasoning that we can only evaluate a trade at the end of the season. There is also a line of reasoning, though, that says we can only evaluate a trade based on what was known at the time. Finally, there is a line of reasoning that says we can only truly evaluate a trade 5-10 years later when all the component parts are known.

    If we are evaluating the Torres for Chapman trade based on what we know at the end of the year we have to say that Chapman was a critical member of a pennant (possibly WS winning team). That kind of value is nearly priceless. In which case discussing "future value" is almost meaning less.

    But if we evaluate it based on what we knew at the time Chapman would improve almost any bullpen. However, the Cubs had far from the worst bullpen in baseball. There was an article posted on ESPN around the deadline about Rondon's struggles in multi-inning saves. Until recently Chapman had a somewhat checkered history in those with the Cubs as well.

    If you ignore future value as part of evaluating a trade you are opening yourself up to trades like the Cubs have made with the Rangers. Both the Dempster (yielding Kyle Hendricks) and Guzman (yielding Grimm and Edwards) were trades where the Rangers gave up multiple young players--cost controlled pitcher's--for a couple months of a veteran pitcher. Obviously Dempster and Garza did not pitch well for the Rangers, something no one could really have known at the time. But looking back on it just 3-4 years later I believe that even if they had made it to the playoffs with those guys they would have been better off keeping the young talent.

    Obviously there is no guarantee that Hendricks, Grimm, Edwards become as good with the Rangers. But they at least had the potential. And in a world where the game is played often by veterans making more money than their contributions warrant having young, cost controlled guys can make a HUGE difference.

    The FO talks about building for sustainable success (as well as winning championships when they have a chance). Within 5-6 years this team will become VERY expensive as Bryant, Russell, Baez, Contreras, Hendricks, Rizzo, etc. will all be in their last years of arbitration or heading into Free Agency. Having another player that is currently "blocked" be available could be valuable.

    My favorite example of this was the Braves. In 1996 the Braves had David Justice as an outfielder. They traded him and got Kenny Lofton to cover CF and allow Jones to break in slowly. MORE IMPORTANTLY, it cleared room in their budget to re-sign other guys. Now with the Cubs. Imagine if we still had Torres and he continued on the trajectory he had. Could he become as valuable to the team as Baez or Russell? Imagine if we could then trade Baez with relatively little drop in production. Suddenly we could have the funds available to re-sign Russell or someone like that.

    Obviously some of this is hypothetical. There is no guarantee that Torres continues to develop, of course. But because a guy in A+ ball is "blocked" by another young player it doesn't mean that he doesn't still have enormous value to the team. Part of what makes the Cubs so good is that there isn't a huge drop off from their starting line-up to their back ups. Part of the reason they can do this is because they have LOTS of players not making a ton of money. That won't be the case for more than a couple more years.

  • In reply to Gerald:

    Yes, the Cubs were at the point where they were willing and able to give up long term value for short term gain.

    My only issues with the Chapman trade were 1) off field volatility concerns and 2) I preferred Miller.

    I thought if the Cubs were going to pay a high price to get a reliever that they should have gone for Miller. He is a better pitcher (two plus pitches as opposed to one) with more years under contract and the cost was only slightly higher. They should have sent Torres and Happ (or one of their young pitcher prospects) to get Miller.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    For the Miller trade to happen, I thought the Yankees wanted the Cubs to give up Schwarber for him. I definitely wanted Miller but giving up Schwarber that's something I would stay away from.

  • In reply to chicagoconniver:

    Yes, if that was the only deal to be had then yes they were right to walk away. I just don't happen to think that was the case.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    It was.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    You may have more information than I do but I think the Yankees said, "Schwarber is included or no deal." The Cubs balked at it and then negotiations moved on to Chapman. It would have been tough but I could have gone for a Torres/Happ for Miller deal for the reasons you put forward.

    Then the Yankees realized they could get a decent package for Miller. and traded him as they realized they couldn't get Schwarber. In my mind the Indians didn't give the Yankees anything resembling Schwarber which is why I believe that the Yankees found a changed market for Miller and simply got what they could.

    That was my understanding but it may be incorrect.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I have no more information than anyone else. If the Yankees really did say Schwarber was the beginning and ending point then the Cubs were right to walk away. But in looking at what the Yanks got for Miller I find it hard to believe the Cubs could not better it. And I also find it hard to believe that the Yankees wouldn't rather have dealt Miller outside the AL.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    What I think happened was that the Yankees mis-judged the market for Miller. They thought he was important enough, given his ability and years of control, to make the Cubs give up Schwarber OR that they could get someone of comparable quality from someone else. So when the Schwarber-for-Miller talks broke down both teams simply pivoted to negotiating for Chapman. I believe that when they traded Chapman to the Cubs they STILL thought they would get more than the Cubs were offering for Miller.

    Remember, Chapman was acquired on July 25. Miller was dealt on July 31. I think it is VERY possible that the market for Miller kind of dried up as the Nationals moved on to acquiring Melancon (July 30). Recall there were conflicting reports about demanding Giolito from the Nationals (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2016/07/29/nationals-should-absolutely-trade-lucas-giolito-for-andrew-miller/)

    Then when it became clear to them that they WOULDN'T be getting that impact talent (Schwarber-like or Giolito-like) for Miller they simply got what they could. Like you, I believe the Cubs could have EASILY given more than the Indians did for Miller.

    IF that is the case, and this is purely speculation on my end, it is possible that if the Cubs had simply "sat tight" they could have gotten Miller for a similar package to what they gave up for Chapman. However that has significant risk. You could also wind up being the team left standing without a chair when the music stops.

    There is, however, at least one other possibility. It is possible that the Yankees REALLY liked the guys they got from Cleveland. There is the possibility that the Endowment Effect could be playing a part in this. We value more highly what WE have and sometimes undervalue what others have.

    But I find my timeline to be a better explanation. But it might be a bit TOO tidy.

  • In reply to lets go cubs:

    I think there are some of those people, but not too many. Maybe more on this site because it built a readership during the rebuild phase, and does such a good job of covering the minor leagues that people get attached to players. You just look at how valuable Miller has been and Chapman, and it seems pretty clear that making a move at the deadline increases your chances to win. I think it is very possible that Ian Happ gets traded next season to fill a gap. Just like Torres, Happ is blocked by two players who are 23 and 22, and probably has more value to the team as a trade chip than sitting on the bench.

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    AARGH! Don't say that Cubswin09! Though I suspect you are correct. I foresee Happ as a replacement in 2-3 years for a fading Zobrist. A guy who can play OF and 2B in a pinch, can switch hit, draw walks and has some power (I think not as many BB, more K's and More extra base power for Happ than Zobrist). I think if the right deal comes along we make that trade. But I think Happ will hang around as he does potentially fill that hole in the future. The hole that will be left when Zobrist declines or is gone and Coghlan (also has played some infield and outfield) are likely gone. What I think the Cubs have done that is interesting is they don't simply pigeonhole a player as "He is a 2B" or "He is a LF." Having someone who can adequately (or better) fill multiple spots has extraordinary value. Look how much we LOVE Baez's ability to play 2B, 3B and SS. It also allows Maddon to move guys around late in the game if he needs to make a double switch.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    We already "won" the Chapman trade. We are National League Champions for the first time in 71 years! 71 years! We won the pennant! We are in the World Series! And we are able to enjoy and savor those excruciating moments from last night because we traded for Chapman. Next year, trading our top prospect and ending up "only" winning a pennant would be a big disappoint, but not this year.

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    In reply to TTP:

    To get Miller Cleveland gave up 2 of their top 3 prospects and 2 others. We would have had to give up Torres and Happ and probably 2 more. I am glad we kept Eloy Jimenez instead of Torres but will only be determined in 4 or 5 years. Remember, we are giving up productive and well thought of Prospects, and getting back proven ML players. We knew that to get better we would have to give up prospects, that's part of their value (the other being used by the major league club). We did get to the WS with Chapman so for me it was a winner. I don't think I'd give him a multi-year contract because he's too unpredictable for me, but he certainly has made this team better.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I don't think it is as simple as "one team gave up 2 of its top 3 prospects so we would have had to give up 2 of our 3 top prospects." That carries a very strong assumption: That one team's top 2-3 prospects are, more or less, equivalent to another team's top 2-3 prospects. Often on this board people comment on how much MLB teams know that we don't know because they have a lot more information. One thing I have no doubt that they know and we don't is how much they value various prospects. I think the Yankees simply tried to get the best combination of players they could for Chapman and Miller. It is possible that they could have gotten more from the Cubs than they did the Indians. But it is also possible that the Cubs couldn't match the Indians offer. We don't know how much the Yankees valued the prospects involved.

    As I outlined above I think the "market" for Miller kind of evaporated on the Yankees and they ended up selling him for less than they were offered by the Cubs. But I don't know that this is the case. For all any of us know there was a prospect from the Indians that they were DYING to get.

  • Remember '03, ironically Prior appeared yesterday on the mound for the Cubs too, when there is doubt there is hope, Cubs play like they just did, win inning at at bat at a time, they will be playing Wednesday that is all that matters. Difference then is Indians facing Hendricks' for 2nd time Cubs facing Kruger and used pen for 3td time. But they have to win game 6 to force game 7.

  • That game was intense.All you can hope is arrieta has 2015 jake flashes in what will be the biggest game of his career.I believe the pressure is on the indians now, tomlin on 3 days rest in a close out game at home is and the cubs now have schwarber back in the line up.

  • With Schwarber's bat in the lineup, I think I'd like to see Ross catch Game 6. He called a no hitter for Arrieta earlier this year and a great game last night.

  • In reply to LetTheKidsPlay:

    With runs at a premium, I disagree. If the games were 7-6 each night, then I'm with ya.

  • In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    actually, I think right now Rossy's bat and glove are an upgrade over Willson's. Willson is in a little funk right now where he squares around to fake bunt every first pitch andthey all seem tobe right down the middle. I also prefer the veteran catcher back there to steady the ship. That passed ball last night could have killed us. Not sure we could have counted on Willson or Baez to get us a fly ball with the bases loaded and one out. Rossy battled his arse off for that Sac Fly.

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    I was thinking about this right after the game. IMO I would let Montero start, assuming he is healthy enough to feel good about controlling the running game. Here's my reasoning:

    Arrieta pitches best with Miggy behind the plate, and it adds a LH bat, though not a great one, and Willson has not given much of an offensive boost anyways. So my proposed lineup is:

    Fowler
    Bryant
    Rizzo
    Zobrist
    SCHWARBER
    Russell
    Heyward
    Montero
    Baez

  • In reply to Daniel Svendsen:

    I just cant see Montero playing, his bat is all or nothing & you saw it with Lester tonight, if 1 guy get on he has a great chance to score. Indians have many good basestealers & actually Jake is worse than Lester at allowing SB's. It got to be either Willy or Ross & seeing how Maddon has pinch hit for Ross when Lester leaves game logic would say Willy but after that past ball late yesterday & Contreras constantly going to the plate my gut says Ross starts Thursday.

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    I think Montero's back is hurting more than the team is letting on. A full game behind the plate would be brutal for him.

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    Looked to me like somebody crossed somebody up on that passed ball. Not sure which "somebody" was responsible.

  • In reply to Daniel Svendsen:

    I would prefer experience behind the plate and Miggy's framing of Arrieta's moving pitches could be huge. I'm just concerned they'd run on him but even so that's probably a net advantage...

  • In reply to Prulix:

    The trouble with many of Arrieta's pitches that miss, they miss by a foot. No amount of framing will help those.

  • In reply to Prulix:

    Miggy's framing looked awful in the Dodgers game. Of course, that's with my naked eye viewing on TV so what do I know. But he was moving the glove a ton. Not smooth.
    Jake was not good in that game, and Contreras just did a great job with him a few days ago. Ronnie's Hairpiece is right. The Indians would run wild on an Arrieta-Montero combo.

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    I don't think that Maddon's decision to not PH Schwarber for Chapman had much to do with having more information. I think the team does have more information but I think the difference is a lot less now than it was 8-10 years ago. But that is another post entirely.

    I think his reasoning went something like this.
    1. We ALREADY are ahead. The guy on 2B represents an insurance run. Nice to have but not really required.
    2. If I pinch-hit I don't know what I will get. While Schwarber is a talented hitter the fact is that he will, most likely, make an out.
    3. Who do I have pitch the 9th? Put Rondon in there? Or Strop? Grimm? With the season on the line I want my most dominant capable reliever.

    I think he simply decided "We will live/die with Chapman tonight."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yea I had no problem w/ Chapman hitting their. Dont forget Francona had Miller warming so he would have faced Schwarbs.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    100% agree, especially with point 3. Strop is the best bet to be that guy, but although he is very solid, he tends to lose command of his pitches once in awhile. The Cubs needed to ride Chapman last night.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Chapman was batting all the way. No way you take him out ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY OR WHAT???? That is why Heyward attempted the steal of 3rd with 2 out. take a chance the catcher throws it into LF.
    Any other time with a hitter up you would not try that, cause he was already in scoring position.

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    In reply to cubbie forever:

    Cool down, Cubbie Forever (no, none of us are crazy, though I sometimes put an idea out of LF on here). We are advocating leaving Chapman in the game. Jared mentioned the possibility of second guessing it but I don't think he really thought it was a good idea. It sounds to me like it was just a thought. Fodder for discussion. Kind of the old bit, "The Holy Roman Empire was neither 'Holy,' nor 'Roman' nor an 'Empire.' Discuss."

  • I agree w/ you Jared, I was just hoping the Cubs would put up a fight & not go into a shell & hide in this game. It really wasn't pretty, but its a win & the Cubs live to see another day.

    Game 6 is Game 7 for the Cubs so everyone needs to be on their game. No more admiring potential HR's, no more not covering 1st base in a 1 run game, no more swinging at pitches bouncing at the plate, etc.

    Thinking about it this morning, the Cubs are very fortunate to be still playing considering they have really only played 1 really solid game (Game 2). If they play their best 2 games in Game 6 & Game 7, they should win.

  • There will be much angst and hand wringing over the next 36 hours but we are in good shape since the Cubs are in single elimination and they have a true ace pitching. One pitch at a time but this is about emotion and execution. Cubs pressed in game 4, and I think game 3 were overwhelmed by the moment.

    Give me Game 7 and the pressure goes to the home team that lost their advantage.

    BTW has anyone heard about any moral problems with Chapman pitching 5 1/3 innings in two games and putting them to bed?

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    Most "moral problems" I have heard about Chapman involved "off field" activities. I have honestly not heard anything moral about his 5 1/3 innings. But I don't read everything.

  • Agree with everyone, most intense baseball game I've ever seen

  • I think all of us Cubs fans did something last night that most people would have thought impossible - at least I did. I realized I held my breath for over two innings. I was simply physically drained after this game. So thankful for an off day today for me to recuperate. Way to go boys. Keep fighting! Onward !

  • I said that when the Cubs lost game3, that they might have lost the World Series, because it was a game that they should have won. After that loss the team needed to beat their best pitchers and nothing has changed, but we have a chance again after that well deserved win. All hands on deck.

  • As far as pitching goes for game 7, if we have one, I could see Lester starting with Hendricks in relief after 3 innings or so. That would be a hard combination for the Indians to deal with.

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    In reply to cubster:

    I highly doubt it. And there wouldn't be much point, in my mind. Hendricks deserves that start. He hasn't pitched poorly this post-season. I could imagine Lester and Lackey being brought in for an inning or two if necessary, such as an extremely short start by Hendricks. But I don't foresee Lester starting the game on 2 days rest.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    It has nothing to do with who "deserves" the start. it which pitcher(s) have the best chance to shut down the Cleveland line-up that night.

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    In reply to willycat:

    OK, I believe that Hendricks on full rest is has a better chance to shut down the Cleveland line up than Lester on 2 days rest, Arrieta on 0 days rest, or Lackey on full rest.

  • In reply to cubster:

    Dont see this happening BUT Lester & Lackey (Lackey maybe even Tuesday) will be available. At the very least it will give the Cubs a couple more bullpen arms & kinda lets Maddon use the bullpen a little more aggressively tomorrow.

    On the other hand Francona will not have this option but its a mute point if Cubs lose tomorrow. Tomorrow is Game 7 in my opinion & hopefully Maddon manages that way.

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    Anything goes in a game 7. If Hendricks gets in trouble early, I can easily see Lester or Lackey used to eat some innings, especially if Montgomery is used much in game 6. It might be interesting to see how Rondon is used, too. If a closer is needed in game 6, does Maddon rest Chapman for game 7?

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    At this point, I doubt it. There is no telling how Game 7 will go. For all we know the game will be decided by 10+ runs (either way). If the Cubs "save" Chapman for Game 7 when he is not needed it might not even take place.

    The Indians have a more interesting decision in their hands. They don't HAVE TO win Game 6--though I am sure they would prefer it. Do they maybe rest Miller or Shaw or Allen. All three have been ridden hard. In some ways Maddon's decisions are easy compared to Francona's. Though I am sure Maddon would gladly trade places.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Like I said somewhere Game 6 is Game 7 for the Cubs and I think Maddon will manage it that way. I fully expect Chapman to pitch unless the Cubs are fortunate enough to be up by 5 + runs, if the lead is 5 or fewer you will see Chapman. I even read this morning Lester could pitch in Game 6 too, right approach in my book its "all hands on deck" the only Cubs you save is Hendricks.

    I think Cleveland will take the same approach, if they have the lead or tied after the 4th or 5th I expect to see Miller early & for multiple innings. Same for Allen. I think its very important for the Cubs to get on the board 1st tomorrow or at the very least force Tomlin in to a high pitch count.

    We need to see the Cubs of the first month of the season the next 2 games. Which is making pitchers work hard forcing elevated pitch counts & getting to the pen early. Hell even if they bring in Miller in the 3rd thats a win for the Cubs.

    The Indians have be superb this whole postseason, especially the pitching but their offense has not been much better than the Cubs. It just has not been talked about as much cause of their pitching & how bad the Cubs offense has been. One thing us fans & perhaps the team can hope for is this team is due for a outburst, due doesn't mean its gonna happen but the Cubs have much more potential for a 2 game stretch of scoring alot of runs than the Indians, especially when you add Schwarbs to the equation.

    The room for error is certainly small but as I have said all WS the longer it goes the more it favors the Cubs: deeper SP, deeper lineup, etc.

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    In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    I think they treated last night's game as Game 7. The same will be true tomorrow.

    I don't think Chapman comes in unless it is critical (like tieing run in the on-deck circle). If we are up 5-1 in the 7th with no one on base I think Maddon goes to Strop or Grimm or even Rondon. No reason to waste pitches from Chapman. But I have been wrong before. I seem to think that bullpen arms are more fragile than Maddon and Francona do looking at their pitch counts on very short rest.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Chapman is going to pitch in game 6. Count on it. Winning or losing he needs to get in there to either shut the door or stop the bleeding. Unless they are winning by like 7 or 8 runs Chapman will pitch.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    I don't think so. If there is a critical situation then, yes, he comes in. But if Jake is coasting along for 7 IP and leads 4-0 I believe Maddon uses Strop, Rondon, etc. and then brings in Chapman ONLY if any of those guys falter. Remember, Rondon has the ability to pitch a beautiful inning on 9 pitches without any apparent effort.

    That being said, however, Chapman has to be considered "available." The last thing Maddon wants is to give up the lead while keeping Chapman in the bullpen because he wanted Chapman to "get the save."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    This is how I was thinking, too. Joe won't hesitate to go to Chapman if he's needed, but may opt to rest him if it isn't close.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Count me all in for the Cubs to be up by 7 or 8 runs in the 8th inning.

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    In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    All opposed say, "Nay!" Motion passes. Next item of business. We have a motion for Kluber to come down with a mysterious stomach virus on Wednesday afternoon. Nothing serious. Just a 24 hour bug. Do I have a second for this motion?!

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    Don't forget that Salazar is available, but is of unsure quality at this point.

  • hope Cub hitters learn how to take pitches the other way in the offseason. playoffs, most of the stuff is gonna be away

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    In the 2nd half, the cubs lost back to back games 6 times, (never lost more than 2 in a row, thats crazy) 5 of those 6 times they won at least 3 in a row after the 2 losses. So it's not out of the question...

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    In reply to Dan Strickland:

    They are certainly alive and kicking.

    The bad news: They have only beaten 1 pitcher this WS: Bauer. He is unlikely to pitch again in anything but "mop-up" type work. Now they have to beat Tomlin (which I think is VERY possible) and finally beat Kluber (a tougher task but it is our 3rd time facing him in about a week).

    The good news: They lost 1 game by a 1-0 score with plenty of fluky stuff happening. If they win that game the Indians are on the ropes. They are behind in the series but have really only been out played 2x. And, I think they have outplayed the Indians 2x. So the difference is really 1 game and that game went the Indian's way. If Arrieta gives a good performance I definitely give him an advantage over Tomlin. And we have seen what Hendricks is capable of. His WS start wasn't great but it wasn't awful either.

    Right now I give the Indians the upper hand in the series simply because they only have to win 1x. But if the Cubs win Game 6 and win it by more than 3-4 runs (which indicates that the offense is starting to click) I say that Game 7 is a push. If we continue to struggle and patch together a 2-1 win or something like that I have to give the Indians the advantage.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I agree Joel! The Indians certainly have the upper hand. Anytime you are up 3-2 with the next 2 at home & your ace pitching in one of those games with the best bullpen in the postseason behind you have to feel confident.

    The "X" factor is the Cubs bats and more specifically Schwarbs (I would not have pegged either as X factors prior to this series.) Regardless of who is pitching, the Cubs are the more likely of these teams to a big number in an inning or game. Like I said above we need to see the Cubs of the 1st month of the season, lots of walks, elevating opposing pitch counts.

    I cant help but remember 2003 the Cubs were coming home 3-2 w/ Prior & Wood starting Games 6 & 7. Matter a fact the Marlins won game 5 being down 3-1 in the series & I was saying "playing with house money in game 5." Point being series, momentum, etc. can change very quickly. I certainly am nervous about Tuesday but I do have a real sense of optimism.

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    In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    I very much agree the Cubs have the kind of hitters capable of putting up a crooked number on anyone (ask Kershaw, Greinke, etc.). I believe the Cubs have a line-up MORE capable of it than the Indians. I am surprised that the Cubs have only 2 HR and I expected them to have more BB.

    We have been on the other side of this, as you point out. The list of teams that have done what the Cubs are attempting is short, but it does exist. And I believe the Cubs are sending VERY GOOD pitchers out there in Games 6 and 7. I believe Arrieta is better than Tomlin and I believe that Hendricks has a "puncher's chance" in a winner take all game.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yup, really you cant even think of Game 7 though, Game 6 is the new Game 7, lol!

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Unfortunately, I think the Indians have the pitching advantage in both games 6 & 7. We all tend to look at Tomlin's full year stats, but if you compare his stats to Arietta's since September, they are much better. He has made 3 postseason starts so far this year against Boston, Toronto & Cubs, all very good hitting teams. He is 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA & .848 WHIP. Hoping Jake performs like last year and Tomlin slips some, but I don't think we have an advantage going in.

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    I'll take 5 more no hit innings from Arrieta

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    In reply to Cubpack:

    I don't like slicing-and-dicing the season unless something specific changes. Something like "since his injury on..." or something like that. While I have read that he has changed his pitch selection in the last month or two we read similar things about Samardzija, a pitcher with a better track record than Tomlin in my opinion, we didn't struggle much against him.

    I am far from overlooking Tomlin and don't assume we will win, but I like where the Cubs are sitting as far as who I want on the mound.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I agree completely with the slicing-and-dicing. I'm not sure what changed for Tomlin, but he has been a much better pitcher the last 2 months. And, like Michael says, I'll take 5 more no hit innings from Jake. I think both pitchers offer proof that they can shut another team down. And both offer proof they can be scored upon. And it doesn't really matter who has the advantage "on paper". I'm just hoping the Cubs can do what they need to do to force game 7. I think our chances go way up if they can.

  • Why can't Cubs show game 6 and 7 at Wrigley Field like Cleveland did for the games at Wrigley ?

  • In reply to Cursebuster:

    I think it has to do with the neighborhood ordinance

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    In reply to Cursebuster:

    I have thought that too. What if they sold seats for $50/seat AND spots on the field (10' square) ($100/space). And donate ALL proceeds to charity. They could do 50/50 raffles as well to raise money. Have games for kids and things like that. I think it would be A LOT of fun. But I suspect Kramerica20 is right. They can't or else they would.

  • In reply to Cursebuster:

    It would directly compete with the bars in the area, who wouldn't be able to gouge their customers for $250 "cover charges."

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Exactly and then they could give Tunney his 'donations". God I wish the Cubs family would run someone against that a-hole in the next election.

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    As much as I loved the Cubs last night and maybe that they found their bats they still scored in only 1 inning. I wish they would just swing easy and not try to homer--as CubfaninUT said above, going the other way and trying to make contact is the way to go. Put pressure on Cleveland's pitching staff and catcher. An easy swing with these players can still result in a HR or double and at least move the runner to the next base.
    They can win tomorrow and then win Wed, but for now, focus on Tues.
    Yes!!

  • You can add Wlson's pick on that Chapman fastball in the dirt to the run prevention list.

  • In reply to Peter Chicago:

    I still don't know how he did that.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Luck. It was mostly luck. But sometimes that is all you need.

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    In reply to Michael Ernst:

    My premise this whole series has been that the Indians have gotten their share of "luck" and that it is about time the Cubs enjoy some. like Ross' "assist" on Rizzo's catch. Was that one actually scored 2-3 kind of like if the pitcher deflects the ball he gets an assist (I think)?

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    To be fair, I think it was more about pure instinct having picked balls like that for years. Granted, they weren't Chapman fireballs, but luck isn't giving Contreras his full due. I bet he makes that pick at 7-8 times /10. I guess it is lucky it wasn't one of those other times.

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    Just out of curiosity, on that foul ball Rizzo caught after it caromed off of Ross' glove what if it had hit the rail of the dugout and was caught. Would it be considered an "out" or is it's contact with something "on the field" make it like he caught it off a bounce. Or what if it had "nicked" the rail but not "bounced"?

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    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Hit or nicked and caught wouldn't be an out

  • Pretty sure this will be the first time the Chicago Cubs have played a game in November.

  • In reply to Lildude:

    Lol, you beat me to it......I was going to say:

    Hey! There's Marla Collins!
    First time I ever saw........the Cubs play in November!

  • Twice in my lifetime (55 years), the Cubs won a game they had to win to continue playing: First time was what I call "The Trachsel Game" in '98, game 163 vs. the Giants, and now last night. I've often wondered when was the last time before 1998 that we won an elimination game.

    The game itself was thrilling but it was especially excruciating because we were facing elimination.

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    In reply to TTP:

    October 8, 1945. They won Game 6 to make it a 3-3 tie before being blown out in Game 7.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Technically last year's wild card game should count

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    2003, Game 5 against Atlanta

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    Yeah, that one should fit the definition. I don't know how I didn't think of that one!

  • The Indians pitching coach said the pressure is still on the cubs.I disagree with that.They have a lot of confidence like it's a forgone conclusion they will win both games napoli was saying it'll be better to celebrate at home and do it front of the fans.I remember several cub fans saying that after game 5 of the '03 nlcs.I really hope the cubs jump out to a 3-0,4-1 lead and then you'll see who the pressure is really on.It would be great if schwarber hits a 2-3 run hr off a curveball like he did vs vs gerrit cole in the wc game and takes the crowd out the game.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Or game 6

  • In reply to bolla:

    I would expect any coach to say that the "pressure" is on the other team. That said, the Indians need to win one of two at home, behind two starting pitchers that have already beaten the Cubs once in this series.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You can look at it from that perspective or the Indians have 2 starters on 3 days rest who the cubs will be seeing for the 2nd and 3rd time in a week vs 2 cubs starters who shut the Indians down in their 2 starts in the series.I don't see how the pressure is on the cubs everybody thinks they will lose.The Indians are the ones who have to close em out.The crowd can be easily taken out of home games with one or two swings.Indians have to win game 6 or they're in the same position as the cubs

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I think it is interesting too that Ross was saying after the game he went into the clubhouse several times during the game saying, "My heart can't take this." I believe these were AFTER he was removed from the game. This is the same guy who, last year when he saw Szczur seemed nervous, told him to "take it in" from the fans and soak up their energy. While there is a certain amount of pressure on the players in some ways it is more stressful for those who watch. Many studies of "stress" indicate that the most stressful situations are those in which you perceive yourself as helpless to do anything about it. And despite all the stories of not washing that "lucky shirt" the fact is fans know that there really isn't anything they can do about what does/does not happen on the field. The players on the field do face the prospect of making a costly error (think Bill Buckner) but they also have the prospect of "making the play."

    I think in Game 7 the "pressure" will be equally on both teams. Whichever team wins Game 7 will insist they didn't feel any pressure at all (though I tend not to believe them). The Cubs have the considerable "pressure" of 108 years and facing a pitcher they have not done ANYTHING with all series. The Indians would have the pressure of 68 years, a home game and letting a 3-1 series lead evaporate.

    I remember last year going into the WC game some pundits pointed out that for a young team like the Cubs it might be an advantage to being on the road. Fewer distractions. And there was a lot of pressure on the Cubs to "win it at Wrigley" whether they acknowledge it or not. Going on the road can feel a little more under control. There is an assumption that the home team has the advantage. When you are the visiting team that is removed.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    The Cubs may or may not force game 7. But the hardest game from a pressure standpoint is the one they just won. There was a general expectation they'd find a way to win that game and they would have been humiliated had they lost. Now no one expects them to go into Cleveland and come home with the trophy. The guys who embraced the target all season long and played the role of the hunted for months are now the hunters. Meanwhile many of the Indians have shown very outward signs that the series is over. After game 4 Santana put a video up on twitter with Kipnis where he was pretty much bragging up the 3-1 deficit. And you've seen Napoli openly talk about how great it will be to win at home. They stand exactly one big crooked inning being posted by the Cubs hitters from really starting to feel quite different. The Cubs have no reason to feel despondent right now. They've won 2 games in a row over 20 times this season. And they can go into this next game knowing that the last 15 times a team trailed 3-2 in the world series and won game 6 that same team went on to win game 7 10 times. There remains all to play for if you are the Cubs and really so very little to lose relative to the weight of expectations.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Depends what he means by pressure, both teams have "pressure." But to a certain degree I think he may be right after all the Cubs have been the favorites since day 1.

    But imo & I think secretly the Indians fans & maybe perhaps the players know the Cubs are sleeping giants. With each passing inning & game the numbers tell you the Cubs will eventually "wake up." They have to much offensive firepower to be held in check for much longer imo. This is why Francona has been so aggressive using the bullpen, he is smart enough to know the more chances you give a talented team like the Cubs the more likely it is they breakout. I think the numbers would point to that. Plus EVERYTHING the Indians have done, more so pitching wise, has worked flawlessly. So if Tomlin implodes tomorrow, which the numbers also say is probably ripe to happen because after all he has spent his entire career including this season shuffling between the minors & majors. Or the bullpen has a hiccup all the momentum at least for the following 24 hours reverses and no Indians player or fan is saying "its ok we lost game 5 & 6."

    Bottomline, when you have a team like the Cubs on the ropes you had better finish them off, they can say what they like but they blew that chance last night. Yes they get 2 more shots but with each passing games their margin for error shrinks and the Cubs could be getting closer to waking up from their slumber.

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    This is my point exactly.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Nice! & home field is not the "advantage" it is in other sports. If anything playing in Cleveland will help the Cubs cause they get Schwarbs while Cleveland add Crisp. The lineup not only becomes more balanced but much "thicker' cause you can hide a defensive player like Heyward or perhaps a little easier.

    It pains me to say this but playing away might help actually help the Cubs relax a bit this time around. Sometime what gets players most excited is hearing the crowd go silent

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    Agreed.
    Tomlin has sort of re-invented himself over the last 6 weeks with a new pitch selection. He was on top of his game in game 3. Pitched the game of his life. If he can do that twice, to the best offense in the National League... I mean, tip your hat. If Josh Tomlin is going to carve you up twice in a week it's just not your time.
    Same with Kluber. Guy's a stud, but if he can beat this offense 3 times on short rest then hats off to him. It's a tall order though.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    Agree 100% with all this, it why a longer series imo favors the Cubs. Make no bones about it the Indians have been better thus far, they should be getting all the credit its deserved.

  • In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    Agree that Tomlin is due for a rough one too. He should be given credit for his success because he is pitching differently. He made a visible, measurable change. But he went from having on of the worst HR/fly ball ratios in baseball to a HR/fly ball ratio of 2% over his last 2 months of pitching. THAT is unsustainable. You don't go from 2 HR/9 IP to a groundball wizard over night. Don't care what changes you're making.

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    In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    I agree with this assessment. Pretty much EVERYTHING has worked for the Indians all series. While the Cubs have struggled the fact is that the Indians have made every pitch; they have gotten a hit in almost every situation. Some of that is skill (put the bat on the ball and let it ride) but some of it is luck. I was watching Game 4 with a guy who was almost drafted about 20 years ago and he kept saying, "The Cubs are hitting the ball HARD. One of these HAS TO drop. Doesn't it?" And he isn't even a Cubs fan and was unfamiliar with the team (he had "heard of" Bryant but Russell, Baez were new to him--he follows the AL).

    As you say, the Indians are very likely aware that the Cubs are a sleeping giant. If Bryant and Rizzo can really get going (Rizzo might already be) then their line-up becomes MUCH tougher than what even Kluber has faced.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I know EVERYTHING!!! And it could very well continue, they have been excellent, like I said they should be getting all the praise & credit, they have earned it!

    Just wonder how it will effect the Indians psyche if say the Cubs put up a crooked number early and/or someone like Miller or Allen gives up a game-tying or winning run. Or say someone makes a costly error. They have faced little adversity this whole postseason. Yes, the Indians margin for error is still bigger than the Cubs because of the series lead and but we all fan know how quickly something like that can shift momentum.

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    In reply to Ronnie’sHairpiece:

    I am not a big fan of "momentum" as I think it is trotted out as a cure all/explain all a little too often. But I agree that the Indians have not faced any adversity this post-season. They have lost games but they were mostly games lost from the very start. They haven't really had a "gut check" loss. A game they are leading 4-2 in the 7th and then suddenly it is tied. Their strategy is "grab the lead by the 4th inning and then just hang on for dear life." Not that that is a bad strategy if you can do it. However, I do wonder what would happen if Kluber is leading 2-0 in the 7th and gives up a 2-run double. Something like that really hasn't happened to them.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I'm not a believer in game to game momentum but I do out some stock in some sort of in game momentum. The Cubs have to win or go home, and we know that, but the Indians don't want to go to game 7 because then it's a crapshoot. If we can score early the pressure shifts from us to them. Out boys need to play their game not Cleveland's. I get the feeling that if this game is going to shift in our favor it's going to have to do with some good AB from Kyle Schwarber. If anyone can remember not to allow the pressure to exceed the pleasure it's that young man.

  • My money's on Jake. Expect 8 innings of domination tomorrow.

  • I rarely second guess any of Maddon's decision-making, especially because there is a lot we as fans don't know, but I will admit to being peeved Lester was taken out early again- especially after what happened in game 1, and in the NLCS.

    However, I just read on NYT that Joe asked if Lester wanted to pitch until a baserunner got on in the 7th, he declined, preferring to give the bullpen a clean inning because he was drained after a pressure packed 6 of work.

    This serves as a reminder- especially to myself- that we often don't even know half the story, and that these players aren't chess pieces, to be moved around as strategy dictates. There are many nuances to the game, and managing players that we as fans have no clue about.

    I am glad cubs got one at Wrigley, but also that they are on the road so the Indians have to deal with the pressures of their own past.

    Here's hoping to a great Tuesday and Wednesday night!

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    In reply to wb22:

    Maddon also insists that his job is about managing players, not "tactics." He places a lot of emphasis on getting to know a player's psyche. Whether they are motivated by a kick in the butt or a pat on the back.

  • In reply to wb22:

    Tip your hat to Lester for having the stones to be honest when it mattered most. How many times have you heard instances of a player tell a manager "Yeah of course I can go back out there. I can get this guy," because of their own bravado... only to see the guy stayed out too long, was gassed, and gave up the lead.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    +1

    This is the RARE occasion where the pitcher was honest. He probably could have gotten through the 7th. But he understands that coming in with the tieing run on base is A LOT harder for the bullpen. And he thought it unlikely that he would get through the inning unscathed.

  • In reply to wb22:

    Yes, thank you. This is what I've been thinking and saying since the start of the play-offs, especially when people were all over Maddon for some of his bullpen decisions. We just don't know. This isn't to say that Maddon always makes the right choice, but his job is more complex than many people consider when they get all over him for a certain bullpen move. There is so much people managing that goes on and Chapman is a case in point. Maddon has had to communicate and use his people skills with Chapman to get him him to the point where he is able to do what he did last night. Chapman deserves all the accolades, but Maddon did a wonderful job of getting him to the point where last night could have happened.

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    I heard on the radio that Joe asked John how much more he could give and he said he could pitch more but he was "grinding" and didn't think he had the stuff he had earlier in the game. As wb22 just said there are many things going on that we don't know.
    If, and it's a big if, we get back to what we do best we can beat Cleveland. The longer we see their pitchers the better we can do. I think good Jake comes out tomorrow and hopefully Joe West (home plate ump tomorrow) calls a good game. We can win.

  • IMO, the Cubs have just as good a chance as Cleveland does at this point. Schwarber in the lineup is huge. He only got one at bat in Chicago. Now he is in the lineup the whole game. Arrieta can be dominating. No guarantees, but I feel real good with him pitching. If we get to a game 7 anything can happen. Hendricks has been very good. Kluber has been good as well but being the 3rd time we have seen him on short rest, the Cubs have a good shot. Both Tomlin and Kluber did not have a Cubs lineup with Schwarber in it in Chicago, now they will. It's pretty clear he makes a big difference in the middle of that lineup.

    Said that Baez looks totally lost right now at the plate. I am a bit surprised that there are not more comments regarding this. He is a rally killer right now. Obviously we all love his defense but at what point is it better putting Zobrist at 2nd and playing Soler or Coghlan in left field? If he is in the lineup he should be 9th.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    I still think Baez' defense provides more value than having Soler in the OF and Zobrist at 2B. Especially with a high batting average Indians team that likes to steal. And it's not like Soler or Coghlan or whoever have been worldbeaters at the plate. We've seen with Javy, he can flip that switch at any time and start being a stud hitter. And he's still capable of doing things like bunting for a hit.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    That must be Maddon's thinking as well because he is still playing. Heyward is a gold glove winner and he has been benched at times but maybe RF is less of a premium position then 2nd base. I hope he does get out of his funk but lets be honest, he has looked BAD at the plate lately.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    No doubt, he's almost been an automatic strikeout. But Maddon has replacements for Heyward's bat. Doesn't really have one for Baez unless you move Zobrist there. But like you said, 2B is a premium position. WAY more plays up the middle than to the RFer.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    Right now, I think Baez would swing at a Nuke LaLouche pitch that hits the bull.

  • In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    Ha! I agree.

    Hopefully next game it changes.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    dont see it. because even with 3 balls, Javy will swing at whatever if it sniffs the plate. he will get nothing but breaking balls out of the zone until that changes. which probably wont this year

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    He was better in the last two series. So it is something he can get back to doing. I feel like he is trying to do too much on each swing instead of just having a good at-bat.

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    From the Wikipedia article on Eddie Gaedel, the 3'7" player who once pinch hit for the St Louis Browns:

    "Gaedel was under strict orders not to attempt to move the bat off his shoulder. When Veeck got the impression that Gaedel might be tempted to swing at a pitch, the owner warned Gaedel that he had taken out a $1 million insurance policy on his life, and that he would be standing on the roof of the stadium with a rifle prepared to kill Gaedel if he even looked like he was going to swing"

    I'm not advocating that they take that extreme an approach with Baez, but maybe they could ask him nicely not to swing? Because like Gaedel, Baez can almost automatically get a walk by simply not swinging.

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    In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    Baez absolutely murders lefties. At this stage of his career he remains very mortal against righties. And that is exactly what you are seeing in this series. He simply has not learned the necessary discipline yet against righties. I would not bet against him over time. But in the next two games he needs to just quit trying to mash and get the dang ball into play.

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    In reply to Senator Blutarski:

    Of course he would. He wants to win a steak.

  • On Baez, my gut is that if he was not in the lineup this series would be over already. I don't see any player you could add offensively (Almora, Soler) that would make up for that defense.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Since they have only won 2 games so far this series, you are saying that they would have lost one of those games if Baez didn't play. The second game they won 5-1 with Baez going 1 for 5 with no RBI's and 5 left on base. I doubt they lose that game if he does not play. Rather they probably win by a larger margin. Last night Baez was 1-4 with 3 K's and 3 left on base. Not exactly stellar. He did have a nice tag out last night. Very difficult to say without knowing the potential offensive production of another player.

    I like Baez but when the other team does not need to throw him a strike and he is repeatedly swinging at balls a foot off the plate that may have something to do with the Cubs not scoring runs this series.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    But you could easily argue they wouldn't have gotten past SF or LA without Baez's glove. Maddon couldn't have predicted the exact moment he would have started scuffling at the plate in the World Series. Or that the Indians would happen to hit fewer balls his way than the Giants and Dodgers did.
    Premium, elite defense up the middle of the diamond is worth having a guy in the lineup who might K 3 times. Especially if the guy is less than 1 week removed from hitting well enough to win a series MVP award.

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    I agree that Baez was really good until recently. But there is a really negative trend occurring this series that continues with him at bat. He has been dropped down in the order and should be 9th now IMO.

    For purely defensive purposes, he probably should be playing. Said that, this time of year you play whoever gives you the best chance to win. It is debatable whether his defense alone makes him a better alternative to Zobrist playing 2nd base and another bat in the outfield if he keeps swinging at balls a foot out of the zone.

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    In reply to MoneyBall:

    Yep he has really looked bad at the plate. I am impressed with Soler's plate discipline He has really improved

  • In reply to Kramerica20:

    That is the hard part with making judgments on players in the playoffs. In the first game, when nobody was hitting, he went 1 for 4 (with a hit off Andrew Miller) and 2 Ks, both of which were (I believe) looking and neither chasing terrible pitches. Second game he went 1 for 5 with 2 Ks. At home, he pressed and was terrible over 3 games offensively.

    Before those 3 games in Chicago, he had hit in 10 of 12 playoff games and, even with 4 Ks in two games at Cleveland, had struck out 26.8% of his ABs, which is certainly respectable. Against LA and SF combined, he struck out 21% of the time and was easily our most important hitter.

    So, in effect, he has one terrible 3 game series where he looks as bad as he ever has looked in the majors. He is, however, significantly contributing on defense and team leadership. Despite this, there is pressure to remove him from the lineup. This desire is understandable due to playoff pressure, but I think it is a mistake.

    I also note that it is largely due to how overmatched he looked, which again was mostly just the 3 games in Chicago. Contreras went 0-9 in those games (and is 1 for 14 on the series and looked rather bad at times also). Bryant is 2 for 17 with with 7 K against Cleveland. Obviously we know about the Rizzo, Zobrist and Russell struggles earlier. But somehow there is pressure to put in Coghlan or Soler, and their bad defense, as answers to Baez, even though neither of those players have shown much offense.

    The pressures of playoff baseball are immense, but I hope Maddon sticks with Baez and he straightens himself out.

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    In reply to Kramerica20:

    Not to be too technical but TC's comment was regarding THIS series. Which explicitly excludes the SFG and LAD series.

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    In reply to MoneyBall:

    You could easily argue they would have lost last night without him. That single tag play was huge. Never mind the bunt single that set up the winning run. And you can rest assured the Indians do think somewhat differently about running with him in the game.

  • In reply to Dave Sampsell:

    The other 3 at bats he struck out and left 3 men on. You are making the assumption that another bat in the lineup could not have done better.

    I like Baez and hopes he turns it around. He clearly helps them on defense. But for a team that has struggled to score runs, it is a valid discussion point if he keeps swinging at pitches nowhere close to the strike zone.

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    In reply to MoneyBall:

    Any of these carry the assumption that everything remains the same, which is not a good assumption. It is VERY possible that another bat doesn't get the run home, even if they don't strike out. It is also VERY possible that if Lindor steals that base that the pitcher bears down even harder and gets the rest of the guys out that inning.

    They were HUGE plays (in all cases) but that doesn't mean that if that had changed everything else would have remained the same.

  • Baez looks lost. He has looked lost before, and straightened it out. It's not a given that he's hopeless at the plate tomorrow.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Until he figures it out he better be in the 9 hole.

  • In reply to MoneyBall:

    Good idea

  • The dodgers had tons of lhp, whereas Cleveland doesn't. Miller is dominating most, although the cubs have been able to get to him.

    It's tough to depend on schwarber, a 23 y/o who hasn't played this year.

    It does seem as though the cubs have not been able to successfully bunt very often. I know maddon doesn't like to bunt, but there are times when it is the right play.

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    In reply to 2Toes:

    There are times where it is the right play. But put me in the camp that says a sacrifice bunt that makes scoring a run LESS common is not actually a good play in virtually ANY circumstance. Not only that, but it costs an out which makes putting up a crooked number more difficult.

  • Indians are barraging the Cubs with breaking balls. and this lineup is struggling with it

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Agreed. Look at how silly Rich Hill made them look last series with that big curve ball. It kind of surprises me really because they have a team with a lot of good professional hitters. I really expect Zobrist, Bryant, Rizzo, Fowler, to have decent at bats even with off speed pitches. They just need to try and lay off the pitches out of the zone.

    I think Schwarber in the lineup is huge. He is a professional at bat and we need that right now.

  • The Cubs win percentage the last 2 years is just a bit better than 4 out of 7........go figure......

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    I just hope that Schwarber continues to hit like he did before in Cleveland. Everyone was very surprised at what he did and I hope that he doesn't revert to a normal batter after 6 months off. I like what Smoltz said about Javy--as soon as he got a strike just take the next pitches, don't swing! I am somewhat concerned about Jake. He has not performed well the 2nd half of the season and this is the most pressure he has ever faced, how will he handle it? Who to catch him? Montero catches him well but can't throw anyone out, but if Jake's on his game there won't be many baserunners. Willson has the arm but not the bat now. Ross would be my choice--knows what he's doing, been in high pressure games before and can still throw runners out (see last night). He knows how to hit too. I don't even want to think about Wed, it might never come.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Contreras is catching arrieta.It was reported earlier by carrie muskat

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    I fear if Joe West is the home plate umpire, the strike zone will move all night, and guys like Baez, Contreras, Soler, Russell will be forced to "protect" and swing at everything.

  • Country Joe West. Could be some tempers flaring. I don't understand why Maddon is starting Contreras over Ross. Ross has not been a bad offensive player this year and he's a superb veteran catcher. I really don't get it.

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    In reply to wastrel:

    He is also 39 years old and told Joe earlier this year, "I'm not an everyday catcher." He wasn't talking only about an "ability" standpoint. He was also saying, "I physically can't do this."

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    He caught 6 innings day before yesterday.

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    In reply to wastrel:

    And almost all season he has been on a "catch 9 IP, rest for 4 days."

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    Yeah, thought he might go with Ross, too.

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