The Mistake By the Lake has never been on a tear like the one it is now. After going over half a century without winning a championship in a major professional sport, the Cleveland Indians could secure the second consecutive such trophy for a city that people were convinced God hated just 6 months ago.
To finish off the task, however, the Indians need to go through a Chicago Cubs team that came into this season — let alone this series — fully expecting to be the ones with a 3-1 lead in the World Series.
But Cleveland isn’t just taking care of business in Chicago, they’re putting the hammer down on a 103-win ballclub. The Cubs look very little like a team that paced the National League in walks and clubbed 199 home runs. The Indians have out-homered the Cubs 4-1 so far through four games, despite the Cubs having a healthy array of fly ball hitters in their lineup and the wind being favorable in Game Three. None of that matters now for the Cubbies; all that matters now is somehow, some way, having just one more run than Cleveland at the end of tonight’s game. If not, they will end a (historically) successful season earlier than they or their fans had hoped.
Cleveland’s Starting Lineup
For what it’s worth, I think the mid-to-late-90’s Indians would be this version in a 7-game series. We’ll never know, of course, but this team doesn’t scare me as much as that squad would. Trevor Bauer is the lone loser in this World Series for Cleveland, and the Cubs seemed to have figured him out pretty well in Game Two in a way that could be sustained through tonight’s game. The Indians, however, similarly had Jon Lester figured out, and I think they’ll be more inclined to run roughshod over him tonight (unlike in Game One, where they were thrown out once and only stole one other base). Cleveland will get good at-bats against Lester tonight in an effort to get him out of the game early. Bauer will have a longer leash than Lester, especially with Andrew Miller being used in each of the past two nights.
Chicago’s Starting Lineup
The Cubs are hoping for several players to bust out of slumps tonight. Oddly enough, Jason Heyward hit the ball quite well in Game Four, so seeing him in the six hole for Joe Maddon’s bunch is less desperate than you might initially think. He’s squaring up the ball better (at least in extremely recent memory) than Javier Baez or Willson Contreras; Contreras might just need to watch the game for awhile tonight from the bench and talk to coaches throughout the game to get his concentration locked in at the plate. He’s expanded the zone with alarming frequency in these World Series.
Kris Bryant has not done much to help the team either, as the presumptive NL MVP has forced Cubs fans to sit through multiple bad at-bats from someone who was so disciplined at the plate all year long. The same can be said about Addison Russell, though his lack of productivity is less inexplicable than Bryant’s. Russell did get a nice base hit near the end of Game Four, however, so it’ll be interesting to see if he carries that batting eye into a less daunting matchup against Trevor Bauer.
While I don’t think we will see an all-out mashing from the North Siders tonight, I do think they get enough done to plate more runs than Cleveland. This is a favorable pitching matchup, and in Game One we’ll recall that Lester allowed just one run over his last 4 2/3 innings after that atrocious first frame. Cubs win this one, forcing a Game Six back in Cleveland.
Cubs win, say 5-3.