Cleveland Pitching Staff Takes Game 3, Lead Series 2-1

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 28: Roberto Perez #55 and Andrew Miller #24 of the Cleveland Indians walk off the field in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Three of the 2016 World Series at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Game Three started with an atmosphere unlike any other in recent history: a World Series game hosted at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. The night ended with a Cleveland Indians victory, posting another shutout, 1-0, to take a 2-1 Series lead.

There weren’t many situations for both sides to score runs, but Coco Crisp delivered with a pinch-hit RBI single in the top of the seventh inning to supply the only run of the game. However, the game was all about the Cleveland pitching staff, as every Indian pitcher that took the mound pitched phenomenally.

Cleveland Pitching Staff Takes Game 3

Cleveland Pitching Flawless

The Indians needed one win in Wrigley to reestablish home-field advantage in their favor for the rest of the series. With ace Corey Kluber ready for Game Four, the odds were in their favor, but the Cleveland pitching staff decided to take care of matters earlier, throwing their fifth shutout in 11 postseason games. Josh Tomlin pitched masterfully in his first Series start, allowing only two hits and a walk through 4.2 innings. Then the Indians bullpen went virtually untouched, combining to give up only three hits and no walks with seven strikeouts from the fifth inning on.

The combination of Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen has guided the Cleveland bullpen since the All-Star break, with the Indians posting a 23-0 record when they pitch Miller and Allen in the same game. This performance is what drives winning teams and, if necessary, Terry Francona‘s club is comfortable with relying on this staff to win them games, even if his offense can only muster one run.

Coco Crisp Delivers in Pinch-Hit Appearance

If they were playing at Progressive Field, Cleveland wouldn’t have had to worry about pinch-hitting for possible Series MVP Andrew Miller in the top of the seventh inning with runners on first and third and one out. Instead, the dominant Miller was removed from the game for the 36-year-old, 15-year veteran Coco Crisp, who delivered an RBI single to right field to score the game’s only run. Cleveland’s offense can never be compared to the sheer awe of the Cubs, but they are getting the necessary hits to win ballgames and the bullpen has taken care of the rest. If World Series history explains anything, this is how teams win championships.

Cubs Offense Shut Out Again

The Chicago offense is falling into boom-or-bust this postseason. They were shut out for the fourth time this postseason, hitting 0-15 with RISP in Game Three, including Javier Baez striking out with the winning run on second base to end the game. They also wasted a great pitching performance from their staff, as Cleveland mustered only two hits and one run after the fifth inning. This collection of sluggers has to start producing more hits in clutch situations to compete. This slumping offense now awaits Kluber, who shut them out in Game One, with a possibility of losing back-to-back games at Wrigley Field and facing elimination.

Game Four Preview

Chicago understands the situation they’re in. They faced a 2-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS and found a way to win the next three games and rewrite history in Chicago. Now, the Cubs need to rewrite the history of World Series success at Wrigley Field, where Chicago is 2-12 all-time.

To get the third win, they’ll have to upend Kluber and the Indians bullpen, if necessary. Kluber was electric in his first Series start, shutting out the Cubs on four hits while notching nine strikeouts with no walks in six innings. No matter the raucous atmosphere, Kluber will pitch his game, which normally leads to success.

The Cubs are throwing postseason veteran John Lackey, who has pitched 135.1 career postseason innings with eight wins and over 100 strikeouts. With the Cubs offense only producing five runs in three games, Lackey needs to deliver another great playoff performance for Chicago to even this series.

Words aren’t necessary to describe the importance of this game. The Indians have already flipped home-field advantage in their favor for good. For the Cubs, no team wants to be down 3-1 in a playoff series, even a 103-win team with the most dominant roster all season.

If Game Three was any indicator, this is turning into an exciting series, with Game Four offering a match-up between an ace trying to add to his legacy for his team and a crafty veteran trying to give some hope to a franchise that defines hope.

It’s also another World Series game at Wrigley Field. Gotta love baseball.

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