Kluber could become 1st since Lolich to win 3 Series starts

ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 02, 2016 03:38 PM
Kluber could become 1st since Lolich to win 3 Series starts
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber talks during a news conference before Game 6 of the Major League Baseball World Series against the Chicago Cubs Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer

 

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland's ace pitcher Corey Kluber will take the mound in Game 7 on Wednesday with a chance to become the first pitcher to win three starts in one World Series since Detroit's Mickey Lolich in 1968.

"The game has changed," the 76-year-old Lolich said Tuesday. "It's a totally different game than what we played back in our days. It just doesn't happen."

Cleveland is hoping for its first title since 1948. Meanwhile, Kyle Hendricks — who led the majors in earned run average this year — can pitch the Chicago Cubs to their first championship since 1908. Climbing back from a 3-1 Series deficit, Chicago won 9-3 on Tuesday to force a deciding Game 7.

Kluber is 4-1 with a miserly 0.89 ERA in four starts in this postseason, starting with 16 consecutive scoreless innings against Boston in the American League Division Series and Toronto in the AL Championship Series.

He started on only three days' rest for the first time in his big league career in Game 4 against the Blue Jays. He left after five innings with the Indians trailing 2-1 in a 5-1 defeat, then threw 88 pitches over six innings to beat the Cubs 6-0 last Tuesday in the Series opener.

He came back on three days' rest in Game 4, throwing 81 pitches for six innings, giving up only one run as the Indians took a 3-1 series lead.

"He's a special guy," Hendricks said of his Game 7 opponent. "You can just see it, the way he takes to the mound. He's always locked in."

Nine pitchers have won three starts in a single Series, none since Lolich went 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and 21 strikeouts while tossing three complete games against St. Louis.

"Good players, good pitchers, can do special things. He's in that category," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It was kind of an easy decision after talking to him."

The 2014 Cy Young Award winner as the AL's top pitcher, Kluber was 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA this season as Cleveland won the AL Central for the first time since 2007. His win in the All-Star Game in July gave the AL home-field advantage in this Series.

"I never connected those dots at that point in time," he said.

After Lolich had a pair of complete-game victories for Detroit in the 1968 Series, he remembered manager Mayo Smith turning to him during the Tigers' 10-run third inning in Game 6.

"Can you start Game 7? I only want you to pitch five innings," Lolich recalled Smith asking.

"Sure, that wouldn't bother me at all," the pitcher remembered responding.

The only others to win three Series starts were Charles "Deacon" Phillippe of Pittsburgh and Bill Dinneen of the Boston Americans (1903), the New York Giants' Christy Mathewson (1905), the Philadelphia Athletics' Jack Coombs (1910), Pittsburgh's Babe Adams (1909), Cleveland's Stan Coveleski (1920), Milwaukee's Lew Burdette (1957) and Cincinnati's Bob Gibson (1967).

Arizona's Randy Johnson beat the New York Yankees in a pair of starts in 2011, then won Game 7 with 1 1/3 innings of relief, a day after throwing 104 pitches over seven innings to win Game 6. Boston's Smoky Joe Wood (1912), Urban Faber of the Chicago White Sox in 1917 and the Cardinals' Harry Brecheen (1946) also won a pair of starts and once in relief.

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner won two starts in the 2014 Series before throwing five scoreless innings in relief in Game 7 for a save at Kansas City.

Hendricks didn't get a decision in his Game 3 Series start, when he went 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss.

"This is the ultimate dream," he said. "When you're out in your backyard as a kid, playing Little League at the field with your friends, this is the moment you dream about: Game 7, 3-2, two outs, something like that, bottom of the ninth. But it's always Game 7 of the World Series."

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AP investigative researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this report.

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