Phillies

World Series: Cubs crush Indians to force Game 7

World Series: Cubs crush Indians to force Game 7

BOX SCORE

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.

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Let the record show that on a snowy Friday afternoon 10 days before Christmas 2017, the Phillies ramped up their rebuild.

Dramatically.

What other conclusion can be drawn after the club went out and signed Carlos Santana, one of the best offensive players on the free-agent market? With the signing, confirmed by multiple baseball sources, general manager Matt Klentak has attached a new level of importance to the 2018 season.

Just a couple of days ago at the winter meetings in Orlando, Klentak spoke of how 2018 was going to be a time to "find out" more about the team's young core of players. Who would continue to take a step forward? Who would fall by the wayside?

But now that Santana is here, 2018 doesn't feel like it's just a find-out season. It feels like a season in which the Phillies can continue to find out about players — separate the studs from the duds — and also start nibbling around that second National League wild-card spot.

Sure, a lot has to go right for that to happen.

And one of the things that has to go right is Klentak has to land a starting pitcher to slot in around Aaron Nola and the rest of the staff, which has the look of a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 starters — until someone steps forward.

Santana's deal is for three years and $60 million, according to sources. Three years is a nice get — i.e., it's not cripplingly long — for a 32-year-old (in April) who hits for power, produces runs and does what Klentak likes best: controls the strike zone. (You could say that Klentak added two players who control the strike zone to his lineup Friday as the trade of Freddy Galvis to San Diego for strike-throwing pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos cleared the way for J.P. Crawford to be the regular shortstop.)

The Phillies need to do everything within reason to make sure that the first of Santana's three seasons with the club isn't about simply inching the rebuild forward. The Nationals are the class of the NL East, but the rest of the division ranges from ordinary to awful. The Phils, with an improved offense and bullpen (Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter), can play with the Braves and Mets and clean up on the Marlins, the jewelry store that became a pawnshop, in agent Scott Boras' words.

It's just up to Klentak to get more starting pitching, and he's on the case. He admitted that at the winter meetings. He is particularly fond of young starters with years of control remaining on their contracts. Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer fit this description. It takes talent to get pitchers like that. The Phillies have enough depth of prospects to get one of these guys and their reserves of expendable talent just grew with the Santana signing.

Santana, a switch-hitter who has averaged 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a .810 OPS in eight seasons, is going to be the team's primary first baseman. Rhys Hoskins is going to be the primary leftfielder. That means the Phillies suddenly have a young outfielder that they could deal. Maybe they try to capitalize on Nick Williams' strong half-season in the majors and package him for an arm. Or maybe it's Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr.

However it plays out, you can be sure that Klentak will be creative. You can rule nothing out with this guy. The other day, we poo-pooed the Phillies signing Jake Arrieta, who is looking for a long-term deal approaching $200 million. But if Arrieta lingers out there until February and is looking for a two-year landing spot, hey, maybe.

We wouldn't even put it past Klentak to entertain the idea of using Santana at third base a little bit — he did play 26 games there in 2014 — and trading Maikel Franco. The Giants were sniffing around, gathering intel on Franco at the winter meetings. There has to be a reason for that. Also at the meetings, an official from a rival club said the Phillies weren't as aggressive as he expected in trying to move Cesar Hernandez. Could it be that Hernandez would get some time at third if Franco were to be moved? Hernandez is still a trade chip, but he doesn't need to be cashed in until July and by that time Scott Kingery should be here.

There are a lot of ways this thing can go. And with the signing of Carlos Santana — which won't become official until he passes a physical next week — the Phillies have guaranteed that the remainder of this offseason will be a busy one.

It has to be.

The stakes have changed for 2018. The rebuild is still in place, but it has been ramped up. Matt Klentak has improved the bullpen and the offense. Now he has to attack that starting pitching and he has the trade weapons to do it.

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

The Phillies' busy Friday continued with a pricey free-agent signing.

The Phils have agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with former Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

It is by far the most expensive contract the Phillies have given out under the Matt Klentak-Andy MacPhail regime.

They had the money. When the offseason began, the only player the Phillies had signed to a multi-million dollar deal was Odubel Herrera.

Santana, 31, has always been a high-walk power hitter. From 2011 through 2017, he walked between 88 and 113 times each season, all while maintaining relatively low strikeout totals for a man with such power and plate selection.

In 2016, Santana set a career high with 34 home runs. Last season, he hit .259/.363/.455 with 37 doubles, 23 homers and 79 RBIs.

This addition provides the Phillies with much-needed pop to protect Rhys Hoskins and also gives the Phils added versatility. Santana is a switch-hitter who came up as a catcher, but he hasn't caught since 2014. The last three seasons, he has played primarily first base. In his eight seasons, Santana has also started 26 games at third base and seven in right field.

The move likely means Hoskins will play left field, and it could facilitate another Phillies trade of an outfielder such as Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr or Odubel Herrera.