Cubs tee off on Indians, force Game 7 in World Series


Cubs tee off on Indians, force Game 7 in World Series


CLEVELAND -- After 108 years, what's one more day?

The Chicago Cubs are far from finished. They're frothing.

Addison Russell hit a grand slam and tied a World Series record with six RBIs, and Chicago took advantage of a huge early misplay in Cleveland's outfield as the Cubs throttled the Indians 9-3 on Tuesday night in Game 6 to push this tense tug-of-war between baseball's two longest title drought holders to the limit.

Game 7, it is. The biggest, most nerve-wracking day yet.

For one city, hysteria.

For the other, heartbreak.

Kris Bryant homered to spark a three-run first inning, Russell hit the first slam in the Series in 11 years and Jake Arrieta worked into the sixth as the Cubs, who came to Progressive Field one win from elimination, are now one victory from their first championship since 1908.

Indians ace Corey Kluber, dominant while winning Games 1 and 4, starts again on short rest Wednesday night at home against big league ERA leader Kyle Hendricks.

The NL champions, who also got a two-run homer from Anthony Rizzo, are trying to become the seventh team to rally from 3-1 deficit and first to do in on the road since Willie Stargell and the Pittsburgh Pirates came back against Baltimore in 1979.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn't take any chances despite a comfortable late lead, using atomic-armed Aroldis Chapman for one out in the seventh, the eighth and one batter in the ninth. The lefty will be on call for Game 7.

The Cubbies, shut out twice earlier in this Series, brought their clubbies to Cleveland.

They hammered Josh Tomlin, who couldn't get out of the third inning and didn't get any help from his outfield in the first. The right-hander, who was so effective in Game 3 at Wrigley Field, pitched on short rest for the second time in his career but wasn't the problem as much as his location.

Everything seemed to be lined up for a massive downtown street party in Cleveland, which has waited 68 years between World Series titles.

On an unseasonably warm November day, fans came hoping to witness the first championship win at home by a Cleveland team since the Browns took the NFL title in 1964 by shutting out the Baltimore Colts.

With Eddie Robinson, the last living member from the '48 title team in attendance, and LeBron James and the NBA champion Cavaliers coming over from Quicken Loans Arena after they beat Houston, Cleveland was poised to have a night to remember like the one just 134 days ago in June when the Cavs ended the city's 52-year championship dry spell.

The Cubs blew through those plans like a wicked wind off Lake Michigan.

Arrieta wasn't dominant, but he didn't have to be. Staked to the early lead, he held the Indians without a hit until the fourth when Jason Kipnis doubled leading off and scored on Mike Napoli's single.

Arrieta worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, and gave up a homer to Kipnis in the fifth but struck out nine.

Maddon came to get him in the sixth, the right-hander got several pats on the back from Chicago's infielders and Cubs fans saluted him with a standing ovation.

Tomlin was one strike from getting out of the first unscathed when everything fell apart.

He had Bryant down 0-2 when he hung a waist-high curveball that Chicago's third baseman, who came in just 2 for 17 in the Series but had homered in Game 5, cracked nearly halfway up the bleachers in left field, a 433-foot shot that sent a shockwave through standing-room-only Progressive Field.

There was a bigger one to come.

Rizzo and Ben Zobrist followed with singles before Tomlin got Russell to hit what appeared to be a routine out. However, right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall and rookie center fielder Tyler Naquin, perhaps unable to hear each other over the roaring crowd, looked at each other and let the ball drop onto the grass for a double.

While they scrambled to recover it, Rizzo scored easily and Zobrist beat a relay throw to the plate, bowling over Indians catcher Roberto Perez as a sizeable contingent of Cubs screamed with delight.

Although it was early, with Arrieta on the mound, Chicago's lead felt more like 30-0 than 3-0.

Russell then delivered the knockout blow with his shot to deep left-center.

A walk and a pair of one-out singles by Rizzo and Zobrist chased Tomlin, who walked to the dugout dejectedly as Indians fans tried to cheer him up with an ovation.

Dan Otero came on and placed a 2-0 pitch over the heart of the plate to Russell, who launched it over the wall spent much of his home-run trot howling.

The Cubs were loud all night.


At 22, Russell became the second-youngest player to hit a grand slam in the World Series. Yankees legend Mickey Mantle was 21 when he hit one on Oct. 4, 1953 against Brooklyn. Russell is the first Cubs to player to connect for a slam in the Series.

Russell tied Bobby Richardson, Hideki Matsui and Albert Pujols for the most RBIs in a Series game.


Game 7 will be played for the third time in six years. San Francisco defeated Kansas City in the last one in 2014. . Chapman made his league-leading 12th appearance of the postseason. ... Arrieta's nine strikeouts were one shy of the team Series record, set by Orval Overall in 1908.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”