CLEVELAND -- Their pitchers walked eight Cubs hitters. The offense didn’t manage a hit off Jake Arrieta until the sixth inning. And the defense was a wreck.
For the first time all postseason, the Cleveland Indians looked uncharacteristically sloppy on Wednesday night. But shortly after a 5-1 loss to the Cubs in Game 2 of the World Series in front of 38,172 at Progressive Field, the Indians said they’d quickly turn the page on only their second postseason loss. The teams split the opening pair and will workout on Thursday before returning to action on Friday night in Game 3 at Wrigley Field.
“We gave up nine hits, eight walks, two errors, and we only gave up five runs,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “We’re probably pretty fortunate because there was traffic all night. For us to win, we generally need to play a clean game, and we didn’t do that.”
Cleveland would be best served to erase Wednesday’s contest from the memory banks entirely.
A rough all-around evening began in the top of the first inning when Indians right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall threw to second base instead of hitting the cutoff man on Anthony Rizzo’s one-out double, which allowed Kris Bryant to score on a potentially close play at the plate. It represented the Cubs’ first World Series lead since they won Game 6 of the 1945 Fall Classic on a 12th-inning RBI double by Stan Hack.
Four innings later, Chisenhall slipped on Ben Zobrist’s RBI triple into the right-field corner as the Cubs began to pull away. Kipnis also committed the first of his two errors later in the fifth inning, which led to a run. And Kipnis dropped a relay throw from Francisco Lindor in an attempt to get a force out in the seventh inning -- “I cost him a top-10 highlight,” Kipnis said.
The Indians only committed one error in their previous nine postseason games before Kipnis doubled that output on Wednesday.
“It was a bad game, for me at least,” Kipnis said. “I’ve had ‘em before. I’ll have a short memory on it. It’s not the end of the world. That one (error) cost us a run. The other one didn’t. All I can do is have a short memory and move on.”
The bloody finger-incident aside, starting pitcher Trevor Bauer only had one shorter start (Aug. 3 versus Minnesota) all season than he did in Game 2. Cubs hitters worked deep counts early on to drive up Bauer’s pitch count to 51 after only two innings. Ahead 1-0, the Cubs took advantage of a two-out walk in the third by Anthony Rizzo when Bauer couldn’t put the slugger away despite getting ahead 0-2 in the count. Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber followed with singles to make it a 2-0 game.
Bauer, who lasted 3 2/3 innings, walked two as did relievers Bryan Shaw and Danny Salazar, though the latter hadn’t pitched since Sept. 9. The performance was atypical for a staff that brought a 1.58 postseason ERA into the game.
“We've been able to do (bounce back) all year,” Bauer said. “We've had guys go down, guys have bad starts, good starts. Someone struggles at the plate and someone picks it up. That's what a good team does.”
The Indians had one early opportunity against Cubs starter Jake Arrieta and didn’t take advantage. Arrieta issued a pair of two-out walks in the first inning, but Jose Ramirez just missed on a 3-1 fastball and flew out to deep center.
Despite what Joe Maddon described as “scattered” command, Arrieta held Cleveland hitless until Kipnis doubled with one out in the sixth. By that time, the Indians trailed 5-0. Kipnis advanced on a grounder and scored on a wild pitch. But Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman combined to strike out six in 3 1/3 scoreless innings after Arrieta exited.
Napoli said he thinks the Indians would shake off only their second loss in 10 playoff games.
“We're a confident group,” Napoli said. “We didn't think we were just going to come in here and steamroll the Cubs. They're a great ball club. We're going to sleep this one off and get off to a good workout tomorrow and get back after it again.”