If there was one storyline coming into the World Series, it was the Indians' stellar bullpen against the Cubs' potent lineup, and something had to give.
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In Friday's Game 3, it was the Tribe's collection of arms that refused to blink, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Josh Tomlin to preserve a 1-0 victory. With the win, the Indians took a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 on Saturday.
Tomlin and Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks were both good despite their early hooks -- like Tomlin, Hendricks was also removed in the fifth inning -- and the Cubs bullpen was almost as stingy as the Indians'. Carl Edwards Jr. ended up being the unfortunate loser after a leadoff single, sacrifice bunt, wild pitch and a one-out RBI single by Coco Crisp in the seventh inning.
On the Indians side, it was the formula that has worked so very well to this point -- Andrew Miller and Cody Allen getting multiple outs, and the rest of the bullpen filling in the rest. On Friday, that job fell to Bryan Shaw, who got five outs to bridge the gap between Miller and Allen.
One potential issue that didn't rear its head was the usage of Carlos Santana in left field. Santana, who has played four innings in left field in his seven-year career, walked twice in three plate appearances and didn't make any game-changing gaffes in the field.
Hendricks danced into and out of trouble all night, allowing baserunners in four of the five innings he started. A pickoff of Francisco Lindor in the first inning helped him navigate out of a first-and-third, one-out situation, and after Hendricks loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, reliever Justin Grimm got Lindor to roll over on a 3-2 curveball to start an inning-ending double play and keep the game scoreless.
Tomlin was decidedly better, yielding just two hits and a walk over his 4 2/3 innings of work. He'd thrown just 58 pitches when Indians manager Terry Francona relieved him with a runner on second and two outs in the fifth, opting to bring in Miller to snuff out any attempt at pushing a run across by the Cubs.
The Cubs had plenty of opportunities to find a tying run in the late innings, but the big hit -- whether by Javier Baez with a runner on third and two outs in the seventh, or by Kris Bryant with a man on first and two outs in the eighth, or by Baez again with the winning run at second base in the ninth -- always eluded them. They had just five hits in the contest, the second time in three games this series that they've been shut out.
And now they're faced with Indians ace Corey Kluber on short rest in Game 4. Kluber played a large role in the Indians' Game 1 shutout of the Cubs, tossing six scoreless innings while fanning nine batters in a 6-0 win. The Cubs will counter with veteran John Lackey in the Saturday evening tilt at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Quick Hits: Indians manager Terry Francona announced Friday that Trevor Bauer will start Game 5 of the World Series against the Cubs. The Tribe had already announced that Corey Kluber would work on short rest in Game 4. Bauer labored in his Game 2 loss, throwing 87 pitches in just 3 2/3 innings. Danny Salazar worked in relief of him in Game 2 and should also be available for Game 5 should Bauer struggle again ... Yoan Moncada has left the Arizona Fall League due to a sprained left thumb. Moncada suffered the injury last week after picking up seven hits -- including one home run -- in his first 24 at-bats in the AFL. He will rest for two weeks and is expected to be ready to go at the beginning of spring training, so surgery isn't needed here. Moncada figures to begin 2017 getting some more seasoning in the minors ... Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Wilin Rosario is aiming to return to the majors after spending this past season in Korea. Rosario ended up with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization after surprisingly failing to latch on with a major league team last offseason. He crushed the ball in the KBO, batting .321/.367/.593 with 33 homers and 120 RBI over 127 games. Still just 27, Rosario is a poor defensive catcher and is best cast as a part-time player, but he's always crushed lefties and should be able to find a fit with a major league club ... Curtis Granderson was named Friday as the 2016 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award. The humanitarian award honors the major league player who best represents the game both on and off the field. The 35-year-old has long been lauded for his charitable efforts and giving back to the community. He also had a pretty solid season on the field, slashing .237/.335/.464 with 30 homers and 59 RBI. He's the fourth player in Mets' history to win the award, joining Gary Carter (1989), Al Leiter (2000) and Carlos Delgado (2006).