CHICAGO – By the seventh inning, the quiet at Wrigley Field was telling, even eerie. Every few minutes small pockets of determined fans would get a “Let’s Go Cub-bies’’ chant going, but invariably they died quickly because of a lack of enthusiasm.
Or, more likely, a lack of belief.
Suddenly 108 years of championship-less baseball is bearing down on this city like a migraine. You could feel the sense of dread in the ballpark.
And that was before Jason Kipnis hit a three-run bomb to turn Game 4 of this World Series into a rout, of all things, for the Indians.
Who are these guys, anyway?
Maybe we shouldn’t be all that surprised, considering Terry Francona’s ballclub did go on a 14-game winning streak during the summer. Nobody reels off a run like that by being lucky.
Of course, that was before they lost their No. 2 and 3 starters, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. Yet they still shut down two of the best offenses in baseball, the Red Sox and the Blue Jays, to get this far.
Now, after pounding the Cubs 7-2 to take a 3-1 lead in the Series, they’re 10-2 in this post-season, so let’s face it, these Indians are a heck of a ballclub, even if they are short on household names.
But there is plenty of time for a coronation, if it comes to that.
For now, this is about the Cubs, a 103-win team that is being overmatched, especially at the plate, in shocking fashion, no matter how good Corey Kluber and the Tribe bullpen are pitching.
The Cubs need a miracle now.
(David J. Phillip/AP)
In the three games they’ve lost in this World Series, the Cubs have scored a total of two runs. And on this night they compounded their lack of offense with key errors that led to a crucial early run for the Indians.
And so, while they stormed back from a similar funk to beat the Dodgers in the NLCS, you can’t help but think the Cubs are feeling the weight of their cursed history these last couple of nights. And the closer they get to elimination, the heavier that burden is sure to feel.
You can say these Cubs are still very young too, but their October baptism last year in getting swept by the Mets was supposed to prepare them for taking it all the way this year.
Instead they look overwhelmed by the moment, and even Joe Maddon, who argued otherwise on Friday night, had no real explanation for what he’s seeing.
“It’s just a matter of gaining confidence,’’ he said. “When you’re not hitting like that it’s hard to push the vibe in a positive direction.’’
In other words, who knows?
Maddon tried to make the case that one win could still change everything, indirectly making the point that in Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin the Indians aren’t trotting out 20-game winners in Games 6 and 7.
“We just need that one moment,’’ he said, “and I’ll feel good about going back to Cleveland. If we get through tomorrow, based on what they have left (for pitching) and what we have left, I kind of like our chances.”
It’s true, with their 1-2-3 starters now on tap, the Cubs are capable of overcoming this 3-1 deficit to pull off the mother of all comebacks, considering the circumstances.
Anthony Rizzo is one of the only Cubs consistently getting on base.
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Miracle of miracles, they did finally score a run off Miller, the first one the lefty has given up in this post-season, when Dexter Fowler took him deep for a home run. That alone ought to make them think anything is possible.
Until you see the Cubs’ bats awaken, however, it just doesn’t seem likely, especially the way Francona is dictating the feel of this series with his bold use of Miller and his bullpen.
That in itself seems to have Maddon and his team a bit spooked.
Speaking of Miller and the Indians’ bullpen, the Cubs’ manager said, “That formula, with such durability in the bullpen, that’s abnormal. We’ve just gotta grab the lead and avoid those guys.”
It wasn’t supposed to be this difficult.
Cubs’ fans were all in on killing the curses, convinced this was the year. But sitting in the ballpark with almost nothing to cheer the last couple of nights, they had to be thinking, “We waited 71 years for this?”
The later it got at Wrigley on Saturday night, the more you could feel the hope going out of the place _ the inevitability that 108 years without a title is about to turn into 109.
To their credit, Cubs’ fans didn’t head for the exits even after the score got out of hand. Right to the end, the ballpark was packed, as if the fans couldn’t bring themselves to let go just yet.
But the quiet reflected the mood. On an unseasonably warm day in this city, you could practically feel the dread of another wait-til-next-year winter coming for Chicagoans everywhere.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News