Just when we thought the Indians were about to exorcise 68 years worth of baseball demons, 27 outs away (on two different occasions) from continuing the miracle Lebron and the Cavaliers started in June, the Cubs sluggers ended their hibernation.
Thus, leaving us with the two most beautiful words in a sports fan’s lexicon: Game seven.
This once 3-1 series is now tied because Chicago did what they needed to do all series: Score early! The Cubs, and everyone else on the planet, know they’re not going to score runs on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. But there is something they CAN do: Score when the two are not pitching. In the first six innings of their three losses, the Cubs have averaged .33 runs a game. In the first six innings of their wins, they’ve averaged 5 runs a game.
Kris Bryant has been the main proprietor of the antidote for Cleveland’s bullpen. After only having one hit through the first four games, Bryant’s bat has come alive. He had 5 hits, including 2 homers, over the last couple meetings. The rest of the lineup seems to feed off of his hot bat. So if Bryant hits tonight, expect the ‘W’ to be hung one last time.
That won’t be easy. Tonight, Corey Kluber is pitching for the tribe, and though he’s working on short rest, that hasn’t seemed to slow him down. He’s 4-1 this postseason, and is looking for a perfect 3-0 record in this World Series. What’s worse for Chicago is that Indians’ manager Terry Francona has said Andrew Miller will be the first reliever the Cubs face, regardless of how many innings he gets from Kluber.
Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks can only wish he had that luxury. Manager Joe Maddon seems to have little faith in most of his bullpen, and has wrung Aroldis Chapman’s arm like a damp towel. If Chapman has even a few 100 mile an hour fastballs left, after throwing 62 pitches over the past two games, you’ll see them all tonight.
Luckily for the Cubs, game seven of the World Series means all hands on deck. Translation: We might see John Lester make an appearance out of the bullpen.
Regardless of which team you’re rooting for, regardless of who you think will win, regardless of which tortured fan base you’d like to see liberated, tonight could very well be the most important baseball game any of us ever watch. Tonight, 176 years of misery will follow 50 brave men onto the diamond. With that in play, anything can happen.