Cubs, Indians will go the distance to end droughts
CLEVELAND, USA – Two teams with Major League Baseball's longest title droughts have gone the distance in the 112th World Series, setting up the sport's ultimate drama, a winner-take-all one game championship showdown on Wednesday.
The Chicago Cubs, whose title drought since 1908 is the longest in American sports history, rolled 9-3 Tuesday over the host Cleveland Indians, who have not won the best-of-seven event since 1948, to pull level at 3-3 and set up the 37th decisive seventh game in World Series history.
One set of long-suffering supporters will finally celebrate the end of epic misery while the other will endure yet another heartbreak and be left to wonder if their wait will ever be rewarded.
Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber, who won the opener and then game four on short rest, will take the mound for the third time in 8 days in game 7 against Chicago's Kyle Hendricks in a battle of right-handers, neither of whom have ever pitched in a game 7 before.
"This is the ultimate dream," Hendricks said. "When you are out in your backyard as a kid, playing Little League at the field with your friends, this is the moment you dream about."
Not since 1985 has a team rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series as the Cubs are attempting to do. And not since 1979 has a team done it by winning the last two on the road as the Cubs must to take the title.
Kluber's short-rest Series double had not been accomplished since 1990. Now he could become only the 11th man to pitch 3 wins in the same 7-game World Series.
"Game 7 of the World Series, I don't think you need any extra motivation," Kluber said.
Kluber went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA this season and is 4-1 in the playoffs with a 0.89 ERA, even with Indians manager Terry Francona trimming his rest time.
"I don't think it has hurt," Francona said. "I wouldn't want to do this all year, but for a couple starts, I think he can handle it just fine.
"The way he treats his body, the way he works his routines, good pitchers can do special things. He's in that category. It was an easy decision after talking to him."
Hendricks was 16-8 with a 2.13 earned-run average and a 1-1 playoff record and a 1.31 ERA.
It's the third game 7 in 6 World Series matchups, with Madison Bumgarner pitching 5 shutout relief innings in 2014 to lift San Francisco over Kansas City and St. Louis beating Texas in 2011 after coming within one strike of defeat.
Game 7 drama also has included Arizona scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth to beat the New York Yankees 3-2 in 2001, Florida's Edgar Renteria driving in the winning run in the 11th inning in 1997 to beat Cleveland and Pittsburgh's Bill Mazeroski blasting a walk-off home run to beat the Yankees in 1960.
"I'm just going to embrace the opportunity, approach it like any other game, simple thoughts, same old thing," Hendricks said.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes how Hendricks stays cool under pressure.
"He's able to control his emotions really well," Maddon said. "He's an artist. He can really make pitches."
Kluber OK with short rest
Hendricks marvels at Kluber's stamina, both mental and physical.
"I don't think there are too many guys that could do it, so obviously he is a special guy. It speaks volumes to him as a pitcher and what he can do," Hendricks said.
"Kluber, you can just see it. They way he takes the mound, he's always locked in. he has a very good mental approach from what you can see from the outside, keeping things simple, just trying to execute pitches."
Kluber says he sacrifices little with the lost rest.
"I spend a little more time doing the different methods of recovery," Kluber said. "But I still get in the same amount of work in between. It's just a little bit more condensed. I haven't found much of a difference yet." – Jim Slater, Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com