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CHICAGO, USA – Moving within one victory of their first World Series title since 1948, the Cleveland Indians have long-suffering Chicago Cubs supporters on the verge of more misery and another heart-breaking failure.
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber pitched superbly over 6 innings on short rest while Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana smashed home runs Saturday as the Indians routed the Cubs 7-2 to seize a 3-1 lead in Major League Baseball’s best-of-7 final.
The Indians can end their epic title drought and extend the Cubs’ epic 107-year futility streak by winning Game 5 Sunday at Wrigley Field.
“We have to take tomorrow with the same approach we’ve taken every game to this point,” Kluber said. “If we relax or take our foot off the gas pedal, that’s just inviting them to get momentum and come back into the Series.”
The Cubs, in their first World Series since 1945, are trying to end the longest title drought in American sports history, and the only one in baseball longer than that of the Indians, by capturing their first World Series since 1908.
“We’re chasing it. We’re still in there,” Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler said. “This team is keeping its head up.”
No Cleveland sports team had won a title in 52 years until the Cavaliers took the NBA crown in June. Now the city is on the brink of two championships in four months.
“We have a ways to go. We’re not done. We still have work to do,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Nothing needs to change. They don’t need a talking to. They’re doing just fine. If they don’t understand by now, they’re probably not going to.”
Teams with a 3-1 Series edge have won the crown 40 of 46 times, including 10 in a row, last failing in 1985 when Kansas City won the final three games to defeat St. Louis.
“It has been done before. It can happen. So there’s no reason to stop now the things that we’ve been doing,” Kipnis said. “The best thing to do is kind of put them away before they can (seize momentum).”
Chicago native smashes Cubs
Kipnis, a Chicago native who grew up cheering on the Cubs, blasted a 3-run homer in the seventh inning that quieted fans at 102-year-old Wrigley Field, where the Cubs are 2-12 in Series games and haven’t won a Fall Classic contest in 71 years.
“Probably can’t say the words that were going into my mind. Kids are watching this,” Kipnis said of his blast. “But it’s just excitement. To be put into a situation like this and actually have something happen like that is, for lack of a better term, a dream come true.”
Indians starting pitcher Kluber allowed only one run on 5 hits over 6 innings with 6 strikeouts. The 30-year-old right-hander became the first pitcher since Cincinnati’s Jose Rijo in 1990 to win games one and four of the World Series.
“Kluber was tremendous,” Francona said. “He had to work early. He didn’t have his best breaking ball. But I think he’s proving over and over just how good he is.”
Kluber struck out nine and scattered four hits over 6 scoreless innings in Tuesday’s opener as Cleveland blanked the Cubs 6-0. He’s now 5-1 in the playoffs with a 0.89 earned-run average.
“He works so hard to be good,” Francona said. “It’s nice to see him be rewarded for it.”
Chicago’s 38-year-old right-handed pitcher John Lackey, a two-time World Series champion, surrendered 3 runs on 4 hits over five innings in his 23rd career playoff start, the most of any active pitcher.
Lindor hits big for his age
Kipnis doubled to the rightfield wall and Francisco Lindor singled to score him for a 3-1 Cleveland lead in the third inning. It was Lindor’s sixth hit of the Series, making him, at 22, the youngest player since 1997 with so many.
Lindor scored on a sixth-inning sacrifice fly by Lonnie Chisenhall and Kipnis smashed his homer in the seventh off Cubs reliever Travis Wood to all-but seal Chicago’s fate. – Rappler.com