No pitcher had ever struck out eight batters in the first three innings of a World Series game before Corey Kluber opened Game 1 on Tuesday night in that exact fashion.
To give that stat its due and proper context: Randy Johnson, Bob Gibson, and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez are the only other pitchers in MLB history to begin World Series starts with seven strikeouts in the first three innings.
Kluber was sensational, tallying nine punchouts while holding the Cubs to four hits over six scoreless innings as the Indians opened the Fall Classic with a big 6-0 victory at a packed and rowdy Progressive Field.
Andrew Miller relieved Kluber in the seventh after Ben Zobrist knocked a leadoff single into left field and continued the shutout theme through the eighth despite a few shakier-than-usual moments. Between the regular season and postseason, Miller now has a 1.23 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, and 147/13 K/BB ratio in 88 frames. That he needed 46 pitches over his two innings of work on Tuesday night would usually suggest the left-hander will not be available in Game 2 on Wednesday, but Miller isn’t your typical reliever and Terry Francona is not your typical manager.
The last reliever to throw 46-plus pitches in a World Series game and then make an appearance the very next day? Keith Foulke, under Francona’s management in 2004 with the Red Sox.
Roberto Perez was the star on offense for the Tribe in Game 1, slugging a solo shot against Cubs starter Jon Lester in the bottom of the fourth to give Cleveland a 3-0 lead and a three-run bomb off Hector Rondon in the bottom of the eighth to put the game out of reach. Perez is the first catcher to hit two home runs in a World Series game since Gary Carter in Game 4 of the 1986 World Series.
The defensive-minded Perez had just three total home runs in 184 plate appearances during the regular season. Maybe it’s a good thing Jonathan Lucroy vetoed that trade to Cleveland back in July.
There weren’t many highlights in Game 1 for the Cubs, who wound up striking out 15 times while going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Kyle Schwarber did make himself heard with a double off the right field wall in the top of the fourth against Kluber and he also drew an impressive walk against Miller in the top of the seventh. Cubs manager Joe Maddon can feel good about penciling the big man in at DH for Game 2, and there’s even talk of Schwarber playing some defense (left field, most likely) when the series shifts to Chicago for Games 3, 4, and 5.
Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday was Schwarber’s first live MLB action since April 7, when he tore both the ACL and LCL in his left knee during an ugly outfield collision with Dexter Fowler at Arizona's Chase Field.
Game 2 is supposed to pit right-hander Trevor Bauer (pinkie) of the Indians against right-hander Jake Arrieta of the Cubs, though there are some concerns about rain in the forecast in Cleveland -- so much so that Major League Baseball has moved the start time from 8:08 p.m. ET to 7:08 p.m. ET. That announcement was made in the sixth inning of Game 1. A postponement is not completely out of the question.
Quick Hits: Indians manager Terry Francona acknowledged Tuesday afternoon that Carlos Santana “might” be asked to play some left field when the World Series moves to Wrigley Field this weekend … Red Sox top infield prospect Yoan Moncada suffered a thumb injury last week while batting in the Arizona Fall League, though it is believed to be minor … Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine is the top candidate to become the Twins' next GM … Angels slugger C.J. Cron underwent surgery Tuesday to repair damage in his left thumb and will miss 6-8 weeks of offseason work … Red Sox promoted Eddie Romero to senior vice president and assistant general manager … Rockies have been granted permission to speak to Marlins bench coach Tim Wallach about their managerial vacancy … Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz does not need surgery on his sore pitching arm … Diamondbacks hired Amiel Sawdaye as their new assistant general manager … Mariners signed right-hander Micah Owings to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.