Multiple scapegoats in Cubs’ loss that puts Indians on brink

CHICAGO – If the Cubs see their historic streak of futility stretch to 109 years, there will be no shortage of goats. And it will have nothing to do with curses.

John Lackey? The bullpen? The offense? Each played crucial roles in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Cleveland, leaving the Cubs one loss from a long, cold winter and the Indians one win away from ending their own 68-year championship drought.

“Obviously there’s urgency,” said Kris Bryant, who committed two errors in the second inning. “We’ve got to win every game the rest of the way out.”

Corey Kluber came back on short rest after throwing six scoreless innings, holding the Cubs to one run over six innings before turning the healthy lead over to the bullpen.

Andrew Miller allowed his first run of the postseason while throwing two innings, then Dan Otero finished off the Cubs, giving the Indians a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“I think our guys have done terrific,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of his staff, which has a 1.50 ERA in the series. “But I think the people that are surprised don’t know our pitchers very well. We’re proud of them and we have a ways to go. We’re not done.”

Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis both homered for the Indians, who need only one more win to wrap up the franchise’s first World Series title since 1948 – and Cleveland’s second major sports championship of 2016, joining the reigning NBA champion Cavaliers.

It’s now up to Jon Lester to save the Cubs’ season and send the series back to Cleveland for Game 6 on Tuesday. Lester was having a stellar postseason (2-0, 0.86 ERA in his first three starts) before he took the loss in Game 1 against the Tribe, allowing three runs in 5.2 innings.

“I think you have to have the same mindset going into it,” Lester said. “It’s hard enough to pitch this time of year or play this time of year and be successful. I think if you’re down 3-1 and you’re going in there saying you have to do this, you have to do that to try to stay alive, I think you’ve kind of already been beaten, you know?”

“Tomorrow is it,” added catcher David Ross. “There’s no sense in even talking past tomorrow.”

Of the previous 46 times that a team held a 3-1 lead in the World Series, 40 of them have gone on to win the title – 26 of them wrapping it up in Game 5.

“We just need that one moment,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We have to have a one-game winning streak tomorrow, and if we do that, I really would be feeling pretty good about going back to Cleveland.”

Jason Kipnis blew the game open in the seventh with a three-run homer.

Jason Kipnis blew the game open in the seventh with a three-run homer.

(Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Trevor Bauer, who didn’t make it out of the fourth inning of Game 2 in Cleveland, will try to close out the Cubs on Sunday night.

“The best part of it is hearing them all leave silent,” Bauer said when asked about pitching in hostile territory.

The Indians did plenty to silence the sellout crowd of 41,706 in Game 4, though the Cubs actually got off to a quick start against Kluber, scoring a run in the first much to the delight of the sellout crowd. Teams scoring first were a perfect 14-0 since the start of the LCS, giving the Cubs and their fans a good feeling.

That euphoria didn’t last very long.

Lackey gave up a leadoff home run by Santana in the second, the first World Series homer at Wrigley since Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg went deep in Game 6 of the 1945 Fall Classic.

Bryant’s two errors led to a second Cleveland run, while Francisco Lindor singled in another the following inning to give the Tribe a 3-1 lead.

“You’re going to make mistakes on occasion,” Maddon said. “You have to be able to play through the tough moments by doing something offensively, and we haven’t been able to do that.”

Kluber controlled the Cubs offense after his opening hiccup, allowing only three more hits through the fifth. Only two runners even reached second base, but Kluber held the Cubs hitless four at-bats with a runner in scoring position after the first inning.

Cleveland added a run in the sixth, then Kipnis blew the game open with a three-run homer, leaving a stunned Wrigley crowd wondering if, yet again, they’ll have to wait ‘til next year.

“You have to win the first one to get to the next one, so we’ll take that attitude,” Bryant said. “But we know we have to win out. We’ve won three games plenty of times this season and in the playoffs, so it can easily be done.” 

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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