Indians move one win closer to title as Kluber has historic night

CLEVELAND – The sight of the Cavaliers raising their 2016 championship banner on the big video board Tuesday night drew an enormous ovation from the sellout crowd at Progressive Field.

They were hardly the loudest cheers of the night.

The biggest applause went to Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller, who combined for eight scoreless innings to lead the Indians to a 6-0 win over the Cubs in Game 1 of the World Series.

Kluber struck out nine over six scoreless innings, while Miller added two more, though he had to walk a tightrope during a pair of jams in the seventh and eighth to keep the high-powered Cubs offense off the board.

Cleveland scored three runs in 5.2 innings against Jon Lester, who had his worst start of the postseason. Roberto Perez hit two home runs and drove in four runs as the catcher provided some pop out of the No. 9 hole for the Indians.

The Indians hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as they try to snap their 68-year streak without a championship. The Cubs, of course, are attempting to win their first World Series since 1908.

Lester had plenty of reason to be confident heading into the start. There was his 3-0 record and 0.43 mark in three career World Series starts – the third-lowest ERA in history behind only Madison Bumgarner (0.25) and Jack Billingham (0.36) – and his 4-0 mark and 1.64 ERA in seven starts against Cleveland since the beginning of 2011.

He was also pitching as well as anybody this postseason, posting a 0.86 ERA (two runs over 21 innings) in three starts.

Lester was trying to join Jack Morris as the only pitchers to win Game 1 of the World Series with two different clubs, having won the opener for the Red Sox in 2013.

Things didn’t start out well for the lefthander, who retired the first two Cleveland batters before Francisco Lindor singled. Lindor stole second base, then Lester walked Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana, loading the bases.

Jose Ramirez followed with a swinging bunt that rolled about 40 feet up the third-base line, good for an infield hit and the game’s first run. Lester then hit Brandon Guyer with an 0-2 pitch, forcing in a second Indians run.

Roberto Perez is the first Indians player in history to go deep twice in a World Series game.

Roberto Perez is the first Indians player in history to go deep twice in a World Series game.

(David J. Phillip/AP)

Lester finally stopped the rally by getting Lonnie Chisenhall to foul out to catcher David Ross, but the early damage had been done.

Kluber, meanwhile, ripped through the Cubs’ fertile lineup, striking out two during a perfect first inning. Ben Zobrist led off the second with a double, but Kluber fanned the next three hitters, stranding the runner at second.

Three more strikeouts in the third gave Kluber eight through three innings, the most of any pitcher through three frames in World Series history. Bob Gibson, Orlando Hernandez and Randy Johnson had held the previous mark with seven.

The eight Ks also established a new World Series record for any Indians pitcher – and Kluber was just getting started.

He worked around a two-out double by Kyle Schwarber, who was playing his first game since he tore his ACL on April 7, tossing a scoreless fourth.

ALCS MVP Andrew Miller once again proved he is dominant.

ALCS MVP Andrew Miller once again proved he is dominant.

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Perez helped his battery mate in the bottom of the fourth, belting a solo home run off Lester to push the Indians’ lead to 3-0. The Tribe was 69-1 this season when holding a lead of at least three runs.

Kluber froze Chris Coghlan to open the fifth, his ninth strikeout of the night starting another perfect inning for the former Cy Young winner.

As Kluber came out for the sixth with a pitch count of 73, the Indians began warming up Miller, their jack-of-all-trades reliever and the ALCS MVP. Kluber got through a quick inning, but a leadoff single by Zobrist in the seventh ended Kluber’s night, bringing Miller into the game.

Miller issued a walk and gave up a single, loading the bases. Pinch-hitter Willson Contreras flied out to shallow center, but the Cubs caught a break when Rajai Davis threw home rather than to second, where Schwarber would have been doubled off easily.

Miller went on to strike out Addison Russell and Ross, escaping the jam with the shutout intact.

The Cubs threatened against Miller again in the eighth when Kris Bryant drew a one-out walk and Zobrist singled, putting runners at the corners. Miller, who had walked only two batters in his first 11.2 innings this postseason, fell behind Schwarber 2-1 before pumping two sliders past him, ending another Cubs rally.

Perez put the game out of reach in the eighth, drilling a three-run homer against Hector Rondon to become the first Indians player in history to go deep twice in a World Series game.

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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