Kluber Leaves Cubs Clueless; 6–0 Indians Win Opens Series

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Wednesday, Oct. 26.

This World Series certainly had a different opening than the last one the Cubs played in 1945.  In that World Series the Cubs beat the Tigers 9-0 in game 1.  71 years later, the Indians’ ace Corey Kluber befuddled the Cubs and the Tribe won a 6-0 shutout.  Early on, I thought Kluber might challenge Bob Gibson’s record of 17 strikeouts in a World Series game, set in 1968.  But  that’s a CD, not a record. It will never be broken.  Kluber registered 8 K’s in the first 9 men he retired but was just as dominant in the later innings without the strikeouts. 5 of those 8 early strikeouts were men caught looking. The 8 strikeouts in 3 innings is a record that now belongs to Kluber. He gave up only 4 hits and walked nobody. His ERA is an astonishing 0.74 in the playoffs.   Meantime John Lester didn’t have it in the first inning, loading the bases and giving up two runs on a single and a hit batsman.   Kluber’s  catcher Roberto Perez hit 2 home runs, one  off Lester in the 4th and  one with two Tribesmen aboard to put the game way out of reach. Perez is in a class by himself in one way.   In all the history of the Indians, no man has homered twice in a World Series game.  Nobody in 1920, 1948, 1954 (when Al Rosen was their big gun) and nobody in 1995 or 1997.  Only two Indians  have hit 2 home runs in a  playoff game.  Those men, each of whom did the deed twice were Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez. Also, no man playing in his first World Series game had 2 dingers since 2002 when Troy Glaus of the Angels pulled it off against the Giants in game 1 of their 7-game duel. Kluber’s 9 K’s are more than any Indians’ pitcher has ever achieved in a World Series game. By striking out the side in the second inning Kluber became the first Indian to do that in a World Series. Forget Bob Feller and Bob Lemon, it was Corey Kluber and later Cody Allen.     For an exclamation point on the game, Allen who wasn’t pitching for a save struck out all 3 Cubs he saw.  Kluber had struck out 9, Andrew Miller 3 and Allen 3 for a total of 15.  History points the Indians’ way following the win.  Teams winning game 1 of a World Series are 71–40 at winning the whole enchilada.

MLB Finally Forced to do Something Smart

MLB has had nothing but bad ideas concerning how to handle the World Series since the awful decision to play the first World Series night game in 1971.  Since then, night games have proliferated, the Series has been moved later and later in the year  and ratings have plummeted. Now, in spite of themselves the minds at MLB have decided to start tonight’s game at 7 PM instead of 8 as last night’s game was.  This move isn’t because of us fans and blog writers who describe these games.  MLB has been watching the weather radar for the Cleveland area and they believe starting the game an hour early will give them a chance to get the game in before nasty weather hits the shores of Lake Erie. When the game starts, the Cubs hope and pray that Jake Arrieta can do what Kluber did last night.  Last year everything was Jake when he took the hill as he won 21 games and the Cy Young award.  This year he’s been overshadowed by Kyle Hendricks’ low ERA and John Lester’s 19 wins.  The idea of Arrieta coming in under the radar would have been unthinkable a year ago when Kyle Hendricks was Kyle Nobody. The Indians also have to be praying, in their case for the health of starter Trevor Bauer’s finger.  When he tried to go against the Blue Jays, he lasted all of 21 pitches before his drone injury burst its stitches and rained blood on the mound.  The announcers had to drone on and on while the Indians tried in vain to stop the bleeding, then got a reliever into the game.  Terry Francona wants no part of that in tonight’s game. Bauer says he can go, but as a former broadcaster I’ve said I could go many a time when I would have been better advised to befriend a gallon of chicken soup. I could make a bad judgment, broadcasting in the minors to an audience of nobody.  Bauer can’t misjudge himself as badly as he did before game 3 of the ALCS. If he can’t go he should have told his boss by now.  As it is, his leash will be short and the bull pen will have all hands on deck just in case the Bauer Bleeder returns. Whitey Ford threw a mudball, but only Kluber has been known to throw a bloodball. If he again comes a cropper, all the bull pen can work since Thursday is a built-in off day.  Only Andrew Miller, who threw 46 pitches last night would be doubtful for tonight. Even recently-injured Danny Salazar has been activated, so while he isn’t in the plan for the immediate future he might be there in an absolute crisis.

The Blue Jays’ Francisco Liriano is 33 today. The lefty made his MLB debut 11 years ago with the Twins. The Giants had signed him in 2000 at 17, then sent him to the Twinkies.  Early on it was thought that he and Johan Santana would be the 1-2 punch of the Twins’ pitching staff.  But Santana went to New York, threw the only Mets’ no-hitter, then ruined his arm for keeps. Meantime Liriano has bounced around the bigs putting up a 96-92 career mark. He had elbow pain as early as August, 2006 leading to Tommy John surgery that November which ended his 2007 season aborning. His first taste of postseason play came in 2010, earning no decision in game 1 of the ALDS with the Yankees, who swept the Twins aside in 3.   He’s been with the White Sox, Pirates and now Blue Jays. His Pirates’ career almost ended before it began when he broke his non-throwing arm trying to play a Christmas prank on his kids.  He’s been an All-Star only once, in 2006 but has twice been comeback player of the year, in 2010 and 2013. With the Buckos he started their first playoff since 1992 and beat the Reds.  As a Twin he fired a no-hitter at his future team, the White Sox. As a Blue Jay he was the winning pitcher in their 11-inning wild card win over the Orioles. His season ended on a down note when a liner by the Rangers’ Carlos Gomez struck him in the back of the head. He came away lucky with no skull fracture. That being said, he will be fortunate not to have future issues from a 102-MPH line drive to the cranium.

Former Indians manager Mike Hargrove, or “Grover” as his players called him is 67 today. The Perryton, Texas native played a dozen years in the show but is best remembered as a manager. He didn’t do badly at all as a player, hitting .290 with over 1600 hits to his name. He was Rookie of the Year with Billy Martin’s Texas Rangers in 1974 and an All-Star the following summer. On June 4, 1974, when the Indians hosted a 10-cent beer night against the Rangers, their fans unknowingly threw beers at their future manager. He was the first to be called “The Human Rain Delay” because of his slow approach at the plate.        He managed the Indians from 1991–1999, thus managing them in both 1995 and 1997 when they made the World Series only to meet defeat. Under his bato the Indians won the AL Central division all five years from 1995–99. n  He then managed Baltimore from 2000–2003 and the Mariners between 2005–07.

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