CLEVELAND — Even the Indians can't deny the lasting impact Cubs have on Progressive Field.
Namely, the impact the Cubs left on the floor of the visiting locker room.
With 18 months in between visits, one of the first things the Cubs noticed about their clubhouse at Progressive Field was the new carpet.
"It's probably necessary," Joe Maddon said with a smile. "So some good things have come from all that stuff, too, for the visitors. You get new interior decorating."
After the Indians blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series, the Cubs — and Bill Murray — dumped an awful lot of champagne and Budwesier on the old carpets.
Like, A LOT.
"Oh yeah," Addison Russell said, "I think we messed it up pretty good."
It'd be hard to fault the Cubs for an epic celebration to honor the end of a 108-year championship drought, especially the way in which they accomplished the feat with maybe the most incredible baseball game ever played.
As the Cubs returned to the emotional, nostalgic-riddled scene of that historic fall, the parallels were striking.
Exactly 18 months before Tuesday, the Cubs walked into Progressive Field for the start of the World Series in 54 degree Cleveland weather with overcast skies and a pestering little drizzle.
Tuesday, the Cubs walked back into Progressive Field in 54 degree Cleveland weather with overcast skies and a pestering little drizzle.
A bunch of Cubs also found their lockers in the same place in that visiting locker room.
Russell, Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester all have their lockers in the same spots this week as they had for the 2016 Fall Classic.
Some clubhouses go in numerical order, some go based on position groups. The Indians don't really seem to fall under either camp, considering Lester was surrounded by all position players in the corner of the locker room, where — before Tuesday —was last seen giving a heartfelt "thank you" to the media for "putting up with him" all season.
"Just walking back into the stadium from the bus into the clubhouse, you get the sense of nostalgia," Russell said. "I see that they replaced the carpet, which is nice. But yeah, the weight room, the food room, I just remember walking around here having that World Series Champs shirt on.
"It's a great memory. I think this is the same locker I had as well. Everything's just fitting like a puzzle piece right now and it's pretty awesome."
CLEVELAND — Kyle Schwarber LOVES hitting in Cleveland.
It's like he morphs into a superhero just by stepping foot into the left-handed batter's box at Progressive Field.
Playing in Cleveland for the first time since his legendary return to the field in the 2016 World Series, Schwarber went absolutely bonkers on a Josh Tomlin pitch in the second inning Tuesday night:
Gone faster than you can read this caption. pic.twitter.com/sm6dL5njZ1— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 24, 2018
That wasn't just any homer, however.
The 117.1 mph dinger was the hardest-hit ball by any Cubs hitter in the era of exit velocity, aka since Statcast was invented in 2015:
Kyle Schwarber's HR in the top of the 2nd had a 117.1 MPH exit velocity, according to Statcast. It's the 5th-hardest hit ball this season and hardest by a Cubs player since Statcast began tracking in 2015— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 24, 2018
Schwarber followed that up with another solo blast into the right-field bleachers in the fourth inning off Tomlin.
Schwarber — an Ohio native — collected his first MLB hit at Progressive Field back on June 17, 2015 in his second career game. He went 6-for-9 in that series with a triple, homer and 4 RBI.
Couple that with his World Series totals and the first two times up Tuesday and Schwarber has hit .500 with a .545 on-base percentage and .900 slugging percentage in his first 33 trips to the plate in Cleveland.