The Indians have been nigh unbeatable this postseason thanks to a bullpen that’s seemingly incapable of getting roughed up and a propensity for whacking big dingers. They lived up to expectations on both fronts tonight, but they also have Corey Kluber to thank for utterly confounding Cubs hitters all night, kicking off the World Series with a historically good start.
It only took Kluber three innings to break the Indians franchise record for strikeouts in a World Series game. He fanned eight in the first three frames, four of them on called third strikes. When he tried to get dudes with his fastball, he found the corners and hit his spots. When he went with breaking balls, he was even more devastating. Kluber allowed four hits in six innings of work, but the Cubs were flummoxed by his late movement and never really threatened to score with him on the mound. He became just the third Game 1 starter to pitch a shutout with at least nine strikeouts in World Series history.
Catcher Roberto Perez put on another clinic in pitch framing tonight, but he also carried the offense, hitting a solo dinger in the fourth, then a three-run dong in the eighth. Perez hits ninth for Cleveland, but he ended up having a historically great game of his own.
The closest the Cubs came to scoring was in the seventh inning, after the previously unshakable Andrew Miller replaced Kluber. For the first time, Miller struggled, and quickly let the Cubs load the bases up with no outs. He quickly popped Willson Contreras out to center, then struck out Addison Russell. Veteran catcher David Ross held out for a while, until Miller turned him into jelly.
The Cubs at least did see Kyle Schwarber get a hit and a walk in his first game since early April. He became the first position player to go hitless in the regular season, then get a hit in the World Series. The Cubs could use his power, and a whole lot more, if they want to defeat Drone Boy Trevor Bauer tomorrow.