Kluber, Perez, Indians beat Cubs 6-0 in World Series opener
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 26, 2016 12:17 PM
Cleveland Indians' Roberto Perez celebrates after his home run against the Chicago Cubs during the eighth inning of Game 1 of the Major League Baseball World Series Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland beat the Chicago Cubs 6-0 in Tuesday's opening game of the World Series, led by six scoreless innings from starting pitcher Corey Kluber and two home runs from an unexpected source in catcher Roberto Perez.
In a match of teams with the majors' longest championship droughts — Cleveland last won the World Series in 1948 and the Cubs way back in 1908 — the Indians scored twice in the first inning off Cubs ace Jon Lester and were on their way.
Chicago did threaten a comeback in the seventh inning. Trailing 3-0, the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs but Indians reliever Andrew Miller escaped the jam with a couple of strikeouts.
Miller allowed another two base runners in the eighth but again got out of strife to maintain the three-run buffer.
In the bottom of the eighth, Perez hit a three-run homer to effectively seal the win. He became the first No.9 hitter in a batting order to clear the fences twice in a World Series game.
The Game 1 winner has taken the title in all of the past six World Series and 17 of 19.
"I have no concerns," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's the first game. I'm fine. We're fine."
Francisco Lindor had three hits as the Indians improved to 8-1 in this postseason. Cleveland manager Terry Francona is now 9-0 in World Series games, including sweeps by his Boston teams in 2004 and '07.
Trevor Bauer, trying to come back from a deep cut on the little finger of his pitching hand, will start Game 2 for the Indians on Wednesday against Chicago's Jake Arrieta. Because the forecast called for an increased chance of rain later in the evening, Major League Baseball moved the start forward by an hour to 7:08 p.m. local time.
Kluber struck out eight in the first three innings. He combined with relievers Miller and Cody Allen to fan 15.
Lester, who had been 3-0 in three World Series starts with a superb earned run average of 0.43, stumbled in the opening inning. Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs, Jose Ramirez had a run-scoring swinging bunt single and Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch to make it 2-0.
"When you're going against a guy like Kluber who's locked in from pitch one, to give up two in the first, that makes it tough," Lester said.
Perez, who had just three homers in 153 at-bats during the regular season, connected in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. His drive in the eighth was his third homer this postseason.
"I don't think I've ever had a night like that," Perez said.
On a night of civic pride for Cleveland, the NBA's Cavaliers received their championship rings next door prior to their season opener, and the city hosted a World Series opener for the first time.
The Cubs had not played in the Series since 1945, five weeks after the end of World War II.
Kluber improved to 3-1 in the postseason and lowered his ERA to a sparkling 0.74. He is on track to start Games 4 and 7 in the manner of an old-style ace.
He was pitching on six days' rest this time, and his two-seam fastball was darting through the strike zone. He was helped by plate umpire Larry Vanover, whose generous calls on the low, outside corner contributed to 11 called strikeouts, six against Cubs batters.
Kluber struck out nine in six innings and walked none. He stranded Ben Zobrist after a leadoff double in the second and David Ross following a one-out single in the third.
Chicago's Kyle Schwarber, making a surprise return in his first big league game since tearing knee ligaments on April 7, doubled off the right-field wall in the fourth — a drive kept in by a stiff wind on a chilly night — but Javier Baez then flied out to end the threat.
Miller, using his intimidating slider, struck out Addison Russell and David Ross to escape the bases-loaded jam in the seventh, then fanned Schwarber to strand runners at the corners in the eighth. Miller has thrown 20 scoreless innings in his career postseason play, including 13 2/3 innings with 24 strikeouts this year.