Cubs starter John Lackey with his experience needed to shut down the Indians early and get to the fifth inning with no runs and a low pitch count. He was being squeezed by plate umpire Marvin Hudson causing his pitch count to climb early in the game. Hudson seemed to be off with his calls according to the looks of Lackey and a few batters from both sides.
Five three ball counts through the first nine Indian batters and 50 pitches through the first two innings,and eight pitches to the pitcher who beats out an infield hit to drive in the go ahead run did not help. With Lackey at 67 pitches and behind 3-1, Cubs manager Joe Maddon rolled the dice by letting him bat to lead off the bottom of the third inning. Lackey made Maddon look good, or is Maddon that good?
Lackey settled down to complete five innings. Close but no cigars for you Mr. Lackey.
Indians starter, ace Cory Kluber was sharp as could be on three days rest. His curves and sliders were not as nasty as in game one but still better than average. His ability to command all his pitches and change speeds is amazing. His cool as a cucumber mound presence is something every young pitcher should learn from.
When you watch him pitch the phrase ‘holy smokes’ is said a lot. Six solid innings, 81 pitches 58 for strikes. By today’s standards, a quality start. Andrew Miller two innings, facing seven batters, 27 pitches and 22 for strikes. That’s 15 innings, a run and 29 strikeouts this post season. How do you hit this guy?
He did give up his first run of the post season giving up a solo home run by Dexter Fowler in the eighth. Big deal.
Indians Manager Terry Francona replaced the struggling Mike Napoli in the line up tonight with Carlos Santana who promptly homered in his first at bat off of Lackey into the wind. Landing midway into the right field bleachers, adding two more hits for the night. Francona seems to be making all the right moves this post season.
Can he be named the ‘MVM’ Most Valuable Manager? To go along with American League manager of the year?
As Joe Maddon wears a path to the pitching mound, I have to wonder what is going on in his mind? How can he stop this bleeding. After another bomb into the wind, (this one by Jason Kipnis), sailed into the right field bleachers, you know Maddon is frustrated.
All the King’s horses and all the King’s men are not putting this series back together again. What the Indian pitchers have been doing is sticking to their game plan of throwing this young free swinging ball club a heavy dose of curves, sliders, and cutters out of the strike zone. They read and understand the scouting reports by those unheralded baseball men who spend months away from their homes traveling all over the country scouting the opposition hitters.
Those are the real baseball men who compile all the information used by these pitchers to get outs.
I can see the Cubs scoring off of Indians Trevor Bauer in a possible elimination Game 5, but how do they stop the Tribes hitting attack? Jon Lester looks like he could be beat. Stranger things have happened, but for me this series is done.
The Tribe could be drinking fire water Sunday night.
Editor’s Note: William Coppola just completed his 40th year in the game of baseball. He has been a coach, instructor and last week completed his third season as an associate advanced scout with the Atlanta Braves organization.