Phillies

World Series: Cubs crush Indians to force Game 7

World Series: Cubs crush Indians to force Game 7

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CLEVELAND -- One more game. For everything.

Either a 108-year World Series championship drought will come to an end, or another that's lasted 68 years.

Hysteria for one fan base, more heartbreak for the other.

Cubs vs. Indians in a winner-take-all Game 7.

As it should be.

"It's just correct and apt that we'd go seven games," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said.

Addison Russell hit a grand slam and tied a Series record with six RBIs, and Chicago took advantage of a huge early misplay in Cleveland's outfield as the Cubs, their offense finally revving, 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.

The biggest, most nerve-wracking day lies ahead.

"This is kind of fitting for these two franchises. This is storybook," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "They'll make movies about this one day."

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.

Cleveland's hopes will rest with their best pitcher, the one guy they've been able to count on all season.

"We knew it wasn't going to be easy," said Jason Kipnis, who homered and had three hits. "We knew they've got a great ballclub over there. They were lined up with their three-headed monster of a pitching staff. We're still very confident."

Kris Bryant homered to spark a three-run first inning, Russell hit the first Series slam in 11 years and Jake Arrieta worked into the sixth as the Cubs, down 3-1 back at Wrigley Field, are now rolling. One more win at Progressive Field would bring their first championship since 1908.

The Indians, trying for their first title since 1948, missed a second shot at closing out the Cubs. Cleveland is now forced to play another Game 7 after losing in 11 innings to the Florida Marlins in 1997 in its last trip to the Series.

Not wanting to take any chances despite a comfortable late lead, Maddon used atomic-armed Aroldis Chapman for one out in the seventh, the eighth and one batter in the ninth. The lefty, who got the final eight outs in Game 5, threw just 20 pitches and will be on call for the season's final game when both managers won't hesitate to use any arm they've got.

The Cubbies, shut out twice earlier in this Series, brought their clubbies to Cleveland. Bryant had four hits and Anthony Rizzo added three, including a two-run homer.

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.

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 that '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 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.

"It was just loud at there," Naquin said. "It was kind of one of those in-betweeners. Lonnie got a good break, I got a break, it's just one of those deals. In the moment, me being the center fielder, I need to take charge on that. That's my mistake."

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

Russell, who dressed up like a Ninja turtle on Halloween, then put a fright into Indians fans with his shot to deep left-center.

With two on, Indians reliever Dan Otero 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, and with one more win they'll be champions.

"I hope it's not difficult to sleep. It's every kid's dream. It all comes down to Game 7," Russell said.

Fall classics
Bryant and Rizzo became the first 3-4 hitters to combine for seven hits in a Series game. ... Kipnis went 3 for 4 with a single, double and home run. He has two in this Series, joining Willie Stargell and Roy Campanella as the only players to accomplish that. ... Cleveland's pitchers have 59 strikeouts, tied for the fourth most in Series history. The 2001 Yankees had 70.

Seventh heaven
The Cubs and Indians each have 0-2 records in Game 7. Chicago lost the 1945 World Series to Detroit and the 2003 NLCS to Florida, both at Wrigley. ... Along with the '97 Series loss, the Indians dropped the 2007 ALCS at Boston. . The Series has gone the distance three times in six years. San Francisco defeated Kansas City in the last seven-gamer in 2014. . Home teams are 18-19 all-time in Game 7.

Me and the Mick
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.

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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HOUSTON — Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

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Dusty Baker fired by Nationals after 2 NL East titles

WASHINGTON -- Dusty Baker's time as the manager of the Washington Nationals is over after two seasons, two NL East titles and zero playoff series victories.

The Nationals announced Friday that they would not be bringing Baker back. His two-year deal with the club is expiring.

The contracts for the members of Baker's coaching staff also are finished. The team said it will work with its new manager to fill those positions.

The moves come the week after Washington was eliminated from its NL Division Series against the Chicago Cubs with a 9-8 loss at home in Game 5. The Nationals also were bounced from the postseason in the NLDS round in 2016 -- also with a Game 5 loss at home by one run, that time against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This outcome, essentially, is what Baker was worried about as far back as spring training in February, when he made clear his desire for a new contract, knowing his was up after 2017.

Before the series against the Cubs began, Baker was asked about his possible future in Washington.

"I've given some thought to some things, but we were told that we were waiting until after the season to make a determination," he said at the time. "There's a good chance I'll be back."

He expected negotiations to pick up after the season ended (see full story).

Turner, Taylor repay Dodgers' patience by sharing NLCS MVP
CHICAGO -- Justin Turner and Chris Taylor shared MVP honors in the NL Championship Series, repaying a Dodgers organization willing to roll the dice on players whose big league careers were stalled.

In Turner's case, it was then-bench coach Tim Wallach who rediscovered him playing in a Cal State-Fullerton alumni baseball game four years ago, after his career appeared all but over.

In Taylor's case, it was Los Angeles' willingness to gamble that an offseason of grueling workouts would enable the young utilityman to rebuild his swing in a matter of months.

The co-MVPs turned up in the interview room together after the Dodgers eliminated the reigning World Series champion Chicago Cubs 11-1 in Game 5. They were champagne-soaked with hats turned backward, a pair of goggles still perched on Turner's head. Fittingly, they doused each other with praise.

"He's a dynamic player and a table setter," said Turner, who hit .333 for the series, with two home runs and seven RBIs. "When he goes, we usually go as a team."

"I talk to him as much as I can. He's one of the reasons I decided to make the changes I did," said Taylor, who finished at .316 with two homers and three RBIs. Both men also walked five times, as many as the entire Cubs roster (see full story).

Rare Jackie Robinson rookie jersey up for auction
NEW YORK -- A rare jersey from Jackie Robinson's historic rookie season with the Brooklyn Dodgers 70 years ago could be available for someone with a few spare millions.

The jersey, part of a Heroes of Sports offering by Heritage Auctions, has been certified by Mears, one of the top memorabilia authentication companies. It is accompanied by a letter from Robinson's widow, Rachel, saying it is the one brought home by the Hall of Famer at the end of the 1947 season, when he became the first black player in the majors and earned Rookie of the Year honors.

"This is the only one known from the `47 season, the only one that survived," Chris Ivy, Heritage's director of sports auctions, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "It stayed in his closet for five decades plus until it was eventually sold to a private collector in the early 2000s."

The online auction opened Friday and closes at 11 p.m. on Nov. 19. The entire collection is from one owner and can be viewed on Heritage's website. Other items available for bidding include Babe Ruth's pants from the Hall of Fame induction in 1939, Keith Hernandez's 1978 Gold Glove award, a Wilt Chamberlain jersey from 1966, Bill Vukovich's Indianapolis 500 trophy from 1953 and Muhammad Ali's shoes from his fight against Ken Norton in 1973.

Ivy said the Robinson jersey has been valued at more than $3 million. He wouldn't be surprised to see it exceed that.

"It's tough to estimate a piece like this -- it's a one of a kind," he said. "As far as collectibles a rookie (jersey) is always sought after, something that's significant."