A big 4th inning from the Chicago Cubs that includes Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and even David Ross hitting RBIs, and then an almost 3-inning relief job by Aroldis Chapman, helped them win game 5, taking the World Series for one or two final games in Cleveland, with the Indians still holding the advantage.
You could cut the tension in Wrigley Field with a knife. The anticipation was gone. It was replaced with the dread of being eliminated and all the old ghost stories about curses and goats waiting to come out. When Jose Ramirez hit a home run in the 2nd inning off of Jon Lester (6 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs, 5 strikeouts), you could see that Cubs fans were waiting for more to come. This series hasn’t been going their way, and it looked like it was going to happen to them once again, on their home field.
But then came the 4th inning. Trevor Bauer looked good up until that point, but the Cubs knew why they felt confident about having him on the mound. Bauer hasn’t been great in the playoffs, be it for the finger injury or something else. He gave up a home run to Kris Bryant, his first in the series, and things started falling apart. Anthony Rizzo put himself in position to score, which turned out to be successful for once, driven home by Addison Russell. Ben Zobrist kept advancing, and in the end that worked out too, as David Ross hit a sacrifice fly to put the Cubs 3-1 in the lead.
Francisco Lindor, batting .421 in this series, hit an RBI single in the 6th inning, and from there it was a game of nerves between bullpens. The Indians didn’t turn to Andrew Miller, but Mike Clevinger, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen did a fantastic job. The problem this time for the Indians was the Cubs didn’t make any mistakes either. Carl Edwards got the one out the Cubs needed from him, and then Chapman came on. Someone who is used to 3 outs, 4 outs tops on most outings, stayed on the mound to deliver 8 outs, striking out 4 and allowing just one hit in his 2.2 innings performance.
Relief pitching has been a huge piece of this postseason, especially for the Indians. But none of it matters without a good setup job by the starters. Lester not letting the same slip away from him put Edwards and especially Chapman in a good position. Bauer not doing a good job in the 4th inning prevented Terry Francona from using Andrew Miller, although in hindsight he didn’t need him. He needed his players to get hits, but the Indians struggled to get on base, finishing with just 6 hits and 0 walks.
Now? One day of rest which works especially well for the bullpens, and on to Cleveland, where each team won one game in the start of this series. It’ll be Jake Arrieta and Josh Tomlin who’ll deliver the setup for their bullpens. The Cubs won a World Series game in front of their fans. They made the series at least six games long, which is something, but for this series to go into game 7 and historic territory, their offense has to show up for two games in a row, which has been a problem for them in the playoffs.