Cubs

Kluber, Miller continue domination as Cubs drop Game 1 of World Series

Kluber, Miller continue domination as Cubs drop Game 1 of World Series

CLEVELAND - The Cubs proved Andrew Miller is not immortal.

Well, sort of.

The Cubs actually put some pressure on the ALCS MVP with the 0.00 career ERA in the postseason, but Miller pitched out of a pair of jams to thwart the Cubs' only true threats.

Behind Miller's Houdini acts and Corey Kluber's pitching, the Indians went on to claim Game 1 6-0 in front of 38,091 fans at Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland.

Kluber was on all night, striking out eight in three innings to set a World Series record. He finished with nine whiffs to set a new Indians postseason record.

The Cubs managed just four hits off Kluber and he didn't walk a batter to lower his 2016 playoff ERA to a ridiculous 0.74.

"We lost, so we just move on," Anthony Rizzo said. "I don't think anyone's really hanging their head. It's just moving on and being ready to go."

Kyle Schwarber launched a double off Kluber in just his second at-bat in the big leagues since April 7, missing a homer by a matter of inches in the fourth inning.

But the Cubs' offense didn't put together a solid threat when Ben Zobrist knocked Kluber out of the game with a leadoff single in the seventh.

Miller came in and promptly walked Schwarber and surrendered an 0-2 hit to Javy Baez to load the bases with nobody out.

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The Cubs looked poised to mount a comeback against a guy who had not allowed a run in 20 career postseason innings, including 11.2 scoreless frames this October entering the World Series.

But Miller buckled down, inducing a shallow fly ball from Willson Contreras that wasn't deep enough to score Zobrist before Addison Russell and David Ross struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs challenged Miller again in the eighth when Kris Bryant walked and Zobrist singled for his third hit of the night, but Schwarber whiffed on two massive swings to strike out and end the inning.

Miller may have kept the shutout intact, but the Cubs also forced him to throw 46 pitches, his most since September 2011. That could have an impact later in the series, including Game 2 Wednesday night.

Jon Lester, meanwhile, struggled in the first inning and put the Cubs in an early hole.

After getting two quick outs, the co-NLCS MVP gave up a single to Francisco Lindor, who then stole second base, before walking the next two batters to load the bases.

An infield hit plated one run and then Lester plunked Brandon Guyer with an 0-2 pitch to force in another run.

Lester allowed another run came on a homer from Roberto Perez - a lined shot to left field that hit the railing just above the wall.

Perez broke the game open in the eighth with a three-run blast off Hector Rondon. The backup catcher only had 11 homers in 422 at-bats over three big-league seasons before this October.

"Yeah, listen, I'm not upset whatsoever," Maddon said. "They pitched really well tonight. Jonny pitched - wasn't on top of his game, but really gave us a chance to win. That first inning was unfortunate. Those three runs in the last inning make it look really awful, that six. I mean, Ronnie just hangs a slider and the guy hits a home run.

"Otherwise it's tightly contested, and who knows what happens in the last inning. The six runs makes it look more lopsided. But I have no concerns. I thought we were ready to play. Our guys looked really good. They were great in the dugout today. It's the first game. I'm fine, we're fine.

The Cubs and Indians will square off in Game 2 of the World Series Wednesday night. The game was moved up an hour to 6:08 p.m. Chicago time with a threat of rain in Cleveland.

"It's big," Rizzo said. "We need to win. We need to win every game. It's no bigger than it was this game. Tomorrow will be the biggest game of the year. So will Games 3 and 4."

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

There may not be a player in baseball more exciting to watch than Javier Báez.

Whether at the plate, in the field or on the bases, Báez is a human highlight real. He’s one of the most powerful hitters in baseball; he has a cannon for an arm, exemplary defensive range and is a tagging maestro. He’s a dynamic baserunner who uses his elite baseball instincts to go station-to-station while magically avoiding tags along the way.

Yeah, there’s a reason Báez is known as “El Mago.” It’s not a matter of if he’ll make an incredible play each game, but a matter of when. Things come easy for the 27-year-old full of flair who makes the most difficult plays seem routine.

Báez is a career .270/.310/.484 hitter who’s hit 110 home runs in parts of six big-league seasons. One of those long balls came in his big-league debut (Aug. 5, 2014), a go-ahead blast against the Rockies in the 12th inning. The legend of El Mago was born.

Báez is the Cubs starting shortstop, though that hasn’t always been the case. Starlin Castro was the starter in 2014; Addison Russell claimed the title from Castro in the second half of 2015, holding it down until late in the 2018 season. Russell hit the injured list that August as the Cubs simultaneously acquired Daniel Murphy in an attempt to jump-start the offense.

By the time Russell returned, Báez was a clear-cut NL MVP candidate. The latter still bounced around the infield from time-to-time, but with Murphy entrenched at second, shortstop became Báez’s primary position. He’s been the starter ever since.

Báez has played 2,646 2/3 career innings at shortstop compared to 1,856 at second base (and 629 1/3 at third). He’s exclusively a shortstop these days, but the El Mago second base days aren’t forgotten.

Báez was the co-recipient of the 2016 NLCS MVP award (along with Jon Lester) and has started back-to-back All-Star Games (2018 at second, 2019 at shortstop). He was the runner-up for the 2018 NL MVP award, posting career highs across the board: .290/.326/.554, 34 homers, 111 RBIs, 129 OPS+.

And yet, it feels like Báez is only getting started. Nevertheless, his career to date has more than earned him a spot on our Cubs All-Decade Team at second base. With that, we'll leave you with this:

Anthony Rizzo joins Cubs All-Decade Team behind efforts on and off field

Anthony Rizzo joins Cubs All-Decade Team behind efforts on and off field

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

You saw this one coming, right?

As the Cubs’ longest tenure player, Anthony Rizzo was a shoo-in for this group. He hasn’t relinquished his starting first baseman job since making his Cubs debut in June 2012. The guy’s longevity alone is impressive.

But besides that, Rizzo has been a model of consistency during his time on the North Side. Since 2012, he’s hit 217 home runs (averaging 27 per season) and hit 32 three times from 2014-17. The lone exception? 2015, when he hit 31. So close…

As a Cub, Rizzo is a .277/.376/.496 hitter with a 132 OPS+. He produces at a high clip each season, whether he’s hitting third, cleanup or leadoff, all while simultaneously playing stellar defense. The 30-year-old is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner (2016, 2018-19).

Rizzo is the guy who comes up huge in key moments but will be there to address the media after tough losses. He’s the de facto captain of the Cubs, the guy who suffered a nasty ankle sprain in September that could have ended his regular season. Instead, he returned four days later for a key series against the rival Cardinals, as the Cubs were fighting to keep their October dreams alive.

When he’s not leading his team on the field, Rizzo is giving back to the community off of it. He’s one of the most charitable athletes in the world and recently raised $1.3 million for children’s cancer research at his “8th annual Walk-off for Cancer” in his home state of Florida.

Rizzo was the first building block of the Cubs core which snapped their infamous 108-year championship drought, but he’ll be remembered for more than that. He’s a leader on and off the field, the clear choice for starting first baseman on our Cubs All-Decade Team.

Also considered: Derrek Lee, Bryan LaHair