Manager Terry Francona made some gutsy (and questionable) moves, but they did not backfire, as Cleveland took a 2-1 World Series lead with a Game 3 victory in Chicago.
It started with having Carlos Santana make his first big league start in left field. He had just one ball hit to him and he walked twice.
The next was pulling starter Josh Tomlin at just 58 pitches with two outs in the 5th inning, despite the fact that Tomlin was carving up the Cubs offense. Tomlin had allowed just two hits and walked one.
Francona went to lefty Andrew Miller to face the left-handed pinch-hitter, while also pulling off a double-switch, taking out Santana. What’s the point of playing him at a new position for just four-plus innings, especially if the reasoning is because you want his bat in the lineup? Anyway, Miller ended getting a line out and then struck out the side in the sixth.
In the seventh, Roberto Perez, who has caught every inning of the postseason, singled to start the inning. Francona pinch ran Michael Martinez, meaning Yan Gomes would have to catch for the first time since the last game of the regular season.
Martinez was sacrificed to second base, moved to third base on a wild pitch, and Rajai Davis was hit by a pitch. However, Martinez was almost picked off at third. Up came pinch-hitter and former KC Royal Coco Crisp, who drove in the game’s only run on the first pitch he saw from Carl Edwards (I’m thinking Joe Maddon left him in one batter too long).
Bryan Shaw was next to pitch for the Indians and he induced three ground outs in the seventh, around a two out wind blown triple from Jorge Soler (who, if running, could have had an inside-the-park homer). Shaw got a strikeout to start the eighth, followed by a pop up from pinch-hitter Kyle Schwarber.
After allowing a single to the struggling Dexter Fowler, Francona went to closer Cody Allen, who struck out Kris Bryant on three pitches. Francona also brought in Brandon Guyer to play left field, Davis moved to center, and Martinez (who is a terrible fielder) moved to third base.
In the ninth, Allen allowed a single to Anthony Rizzo, but struck out former Royal Ben Zobrist (1-for-4). Allen then induced two straight ground outs, but Mike Napoli couldn’t handle the second grounder to put runners on the corners for Javy Baez. After Jason Heyward stole second base as the winning run, Allen just blew away Baez with a high fastball.
The Indians offense had plenty of chances against the Cubs (eight hits) and chased starter Kyle Hendricks, who lasted just 4.1 innings. The Indians had runners at the corners in the first with Napoli at the plate, but Francisco Lindor was picked off first base. In the fifth, Justin Grimm entered with the bases loaded and one out and got Lindor to ground into an inning ending double play.
Former Royal Mike Montgomery induced two ground outs for the Cubs (one to end the seventh and one to start the eighth).
Game 4 on Saturday night will pit Corey Kluber (the Game 1 winner for the Indians) against John Lackey for the Cubs.