By Shane Nicholson
The Chicago Cubs fired back Wednesday night, beating the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on the back of a solid outing from starter Jake Arrieta to level the World Series at a game apiece.
The Cubs struck first at Progressive Field, with third baseman Kris Bryant driving a 2-2 Trevor Bauer offering back up the middle for a one-out base hit. Anthony Rizzo followed with a double down the rightfield line, where Cleveland’s Lonnie Chisenhall decided Bryant wasn’t going to make a turn for the plate. But his throw to second proved ill-advised as Bryant strode in giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
Arrieta found trouble with a pair of two-out walks in the bottom half of the frame, the command problems that cropped up throughout the season sliding back into view. But a Jose Ramirez drive to straightaway centerfield was corralled by Dexter Fowler at the warning track, preserving the early Chicago advantage.
Javy Baez was stranded following a leadoff single in the second, and Arrieta worked a 1-2-3 bottom half before the two-out troubles visited his Cleveland counterpart. After retiring Fowler and Bryant to start to third, Bauer conceded a two-out walk to Rizzo. The switch-hitting Ben Zobrist sent a line drive back through the box to bring up Kyle Schwarber with two runners on. Working the count to his favor, Schwarber laced a 3-0 single to centerfield bringing home Rizzo and giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Bauer walked catcher Willson Contreras to lead off the fourth before Jorge Soler hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Addison Russell followed with a two-out single to center, and that was the end of Bauer’s night after 87 pitchers as Terry Francona handed the game off to his bullpen. Zach McAllister entered and promptly sat Fowler down on three pitches.
The wheels came off for the so-far lights out Indians bullpen in the fifth. After Bryant struck out to lead off, Rizzo drew a walk on a 10-pitch at bat having narrowly missed out on a solo home run. Zobrist followed with a triple down the rightfield line, chasing McAllister from the game.
Bryan Shaw came in for his first appearance of the series to face Schwarber, who sent a 1-2 pitch into centerfield to plate Zobrist. Contreras reached on an error by second baseman Jason Kipnis before a wild pitch allowed Schwarber to move up to third. And a pair of two-out walks to Soler and Russell gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead before Shaw set Fowler down on strikes to end the inning.
Arrieta’s magic finally wore out in the sixth. After going 5.1 innings without allowing a hit, Kipnis doubled to right center to give the Indians only their second base runner since the first inning. A fielder’s choice moved Kipnis up to third before a wild pitch with Mike Napoli at the plate gave Cleveland their first run of the game. Arrieta was lifted for lefthander Mike Montgomery, and induced a 1-3 groundout to get out of the inning without further damage.
Chicago loaded up the bases with one out in the seventh off reliever Jeff Manship, who was taken out of the game having faced just four batters. Dan Otero became the sixth Cleveland pitcher of the night, and not for the first time in this series the Cubs left the sacks full after Bryant hit into a 5-2 fielder’s choice and Rizzo lined out to left. Montgomery got two quick outs before a base hit and a walk to Perez gave Cleveland a lifeline in the bottom of the inning. But Carlos Santana was retired on three pitches to end the threat.
The Cubs were retired 1-2-3 for the first time in the game in the top of the eighth. Montgomery retired the first two batters faced in the bottom of the inning before conceding a two-out hit to Napoli. Cubs closer Ardolis Chapman replaced the lefty reliever, striking out Ramirez on a 103 mph fastball.
The Cubs went down down in order again in the ninth as Mike Clevinger came on for Otero. Chapman worked the ninth, allowing a two-out walk to Brandon Guyer before inducing Perez to ground to Russell to close out the game.
Schwarber was the first player since Trot Nixon in Game 4 of the 2004 World Series to drive in a run on a 3-0 count. Nixon’s Red Sox went on to win that series, breaking their 86-year championship drought.
Zobrist became the first Cub to triple in a World Series since Andy Pafko in the losing effort of Game 7 of the 1945 contest.
And Arrieta’s 5.1 innings of no-hit ball was the longest such effort by a Cubs pitcher in the postseason since Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown went 5.2 innings against the White Sox in Game 4 of the 1906 World Series.
The teams travel back to Chicago for Game 3 of the World Series, Friday from Wrigley Field. Television coverage will start on FOX at 6:30 p.m. First pitch is at 7:08 p.m. on FOX39 and WSCR 670AM.
We’ll have complete coverage on the off day Thursday and a preview in the build up to Friday’s Game 3 right here at RockRiverTimes.com.