Five key moments from the Cubs' 9-3 win in World Series Game 6
Turns out, having the biggest championship drought in baseball is a decent motivational tool. The Chicago Cubs dominated the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the World Series, forcing Game 7 after a 9-3 win.
They were able to do so with their big bats. With two outs and an 0-2 count, Kris Bryant smacked a hanging curveball from Josh Tomlin deep into the seats in left field to get the Cubs going. That would extend the inning for Chicago, and it turned out that was a huge problem for Cleveland.
After two straight singles from Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist, shortstop Addison Russell hit a fly ball to right center that appeared to be an easy out. Center fielder Tyler Naquin and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall miscommunicated on the play, and the ball dropped in. That gaffe allowed two runs to score, giving the Cubs an early 3-0 lead.
The same cast of characters struck again in the third. After a Kyle Schwarber walk, singles by Rizzo and Zobrist loaded the bases for Russell. The 22-year-old shortstop came through with the biggest hit of his career, smashing a grand slam to left.
With the score 7-0, Chicago coasted. Cleveland attempted comebacks throughout the contest, but the deficit proved to be too big. Because of that, Game 7 will be held at Progressive Field on Wednesday night. In about 24 hours, one of these club’s huge championship droughts is going to be broken.
What’s better than a Kris Bryant HR in the World Series? The answer is nothing. pic.twitter.com/1fAm0fcwbn
— Cubs Insider (@Cubs_Insider) November 2, 2016
BRYANT GOES YARD
The Cubs offense jumped on Cleveland early, and it’s all due to Bryant. Tomlin worked through Dexter Fowler and Schwarber fairly quickly in the first inning, and even managed an 0-2 count on Bryant. While he didn’t look completely unhittable, it seemed like Tomlin could settle in and give Cleveland a few solid innings.
On the next pitch, that changed. Bryant crushed a curve ball that stayed in the zone way out to left field for the solo home run. The hit made it clear the Cubs weren’t going to give up despite playing on the road with their backs against the wall. It also extended the inning, and that proved to be crucial.
sonofthebronx: Naquin and Chisenhall misplay Addison Russell’s fly ball … Fox KTVU Fox 2 Ne… https://t.co/5UZgWaY5th pic.twitter.com/RIiOvGkXG5
— FanNewsClips (@FanNewsClips) November 2, 2016
Tomlin’s first inning could have been a lot more manageable if not for his defense. With two men on, Tomlin gave up a weak fly ball to right center that should have been caught for an out. Problem was, Naquin and Chisenhall did not communicate on the play, allowing the ball to drop in for an easy hit. Two runs scored on the play, and Russell would reach third on a throwing error by Jason Kipnis.
Because neither Naquin nor Chisenhall touched the ball, neither players were charged with an error. And while Kipnis was, it wasn’t his fault. It was an awful play and it sucked the life out of the home fans at Progressive Field.
ADDISON RUSSELL GRAND SLAM!!! 7-0 CHICAGOOOO pic.twitter.com/N55rfgxwje
— Chicago Sports News (@ChiSportUpdates) November 2, 2016
RUSSELL’S GRAND SLAM
If the Cubs can pull off the incredible comeback Wednesday, this will go down as the hit that broke Cleveland’s back. After Tomlin loaded the bases with one out in the third, manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen. This time, it couldn’t get the job done. Dan Otero entered with a tough situation, and immediately got himself in more trouble by going 2-0 on Russell.
On the third pitch of the at-bat, Russell delivered the Cubs’ biggest highlight in 108 years. He crushed an 89 mph fastball out to left for the grand slam. The hit gave the Cubs a 7-0 lead, and marked the point where everyone knew Game 7 was happening.
ARRIETA COMES UP BIG
While Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta looked strong early, he found himself in some trouble in the fourth inning. Jason Kipnis doubled to kick things off, and then came around to score on a single by Mike Napoli. With two outs, Chisenhall was hit by a pitch and Coco Crisp walked to load the bases.
Though Chicago was up by 7-1 at the time, it felt like a tense moment. Arrieta looked vulnerable for the first time all game, and the Cubs’ history didn’t make the situation feel reassuring. All it took was four pitches from Arrieta to change that narrative. He struck out Naquin with a 94 mph fastball to end the inning and limit the damage. Cleveland would have still faced an uphill battle with a hit, but the strikeout killed any chance of a late comeback.
CHAPMAN WINS THE RACE
Despite the huge deficit, Cleveland continued to rally in this one. It threatened again in the seventh inning. With two outs, Kipnis singled to put two runners on against Mike Montgomery. Joe Maddon had seen enough, and opted to bring in Aroldis Chapman even though his club had a 7-2 lead.
The move worked, but it was tense. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Francisco Lindor hit a grounder that pulled Rizzo off the first base bag. Chapman raced over to first, and it initially looked as though Lindor beat out the play. Replay showed that Chapman’s foot barely touched the bag before Lindor got there, and he was ruled out.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik