History — or anything else — did not appear to weigh on the Cubs on Tuesday. They immediately looked more relaxed than they had over the weekend at Wrigley Field, where they lost two of three despite holding the best home record in baseball this season.
Perhaps it was escaping the suffocating crowds, or perhaps it was that Cubs Manager Joe Maddon had allowed his players to stay at home on Monday to enjoy Halloween with their families before flying into Cleveland at night. About half the team boarded the plane in costume.
The crowd had barely settled in when Kris Bryant, with two outs and the count at 0-2, unsettled Indians starter Josh Tomlin by blasting a curveball over the left-field wall to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist followed with sharp singles, but it appeared the Indians would escape without further damage when Russell hit a fly ball into the gap in right-center field.
The rookie center fielder Tyler Naquin was in good position to make the catch, and Lonnie Chisenhall, racing over from right, had a bead on the ball as well. But as the ball approached, both Naquin and Chisenhall pulled back, and the ball dropped. Two runs scored.
If the mix-up felt like a gut punch, self-inflicted as it was, Russell delivered a knockout blow in his next at-bat, in the third inning. After the Cubs loaded the bases with one out, chasing Tomlin, Russell hammered a 2-0 fastball from reliever Dan Otero into the left-field seats, an estimated 434-foot blast.
When Rizzo added a two-run homer in the top of the ninth, the sizable contingent of Cubs fans roared, and the home fans began making their way toward the exit. When the Indians pushed across a run in the bottom of the ninth, it felt hollow: Roberto Perez drove home Brandon Guyer but was thrown out at second.
Although the Cubs have a history of blowing leads in the postseason — dating at least to 1929, when they lost an 8-0 lead in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series — this one was big enough for Jake Arrieta to earn the win.
Arrieta, who carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning of Game 2, which the Cubs won by 5-1, allowed two runs and three hits in five and two-thirds innings Tuesday. He walked three, hit a batter and struck out nine.
One of his few anxious moments came in the fourth. Jason Kipnis doubled and scored on a one-out single by Mike Napoli. After right fielder Jason Heyward made a sprawling catch to deprive Jose Ramirez of a hit, Arrieta hit Chisenhall and walked Coco Crisp to load the bases. But Naquin struck out to end the threat.
Kipnis hit a solo home run in the fifth and singled in the seventh to put two runners on with two outs. That prompted Maddon to call on closer Aroldis Chapman, who had thrown 42 pitches in Sunday’s victory, in which he recorded the final eight outs.
Chapman, who at one point on Sunday had failed to cover first base, nearly opening the door for the Indians to tie the score, got Francisco Lindor, who entered the night hitting .421 in the Series, to bounce to Rizzo at first. This time, Chapman remembered to cover, but Lindor arrived at the bag just as he did.
The first-base umpire, Sam Holbrook, who will behind the plate Wednesday, signaled safe. But the call was overturned after a video review.
In the eighth, after Ramirez singled with one out, Chisenhall grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that was slickly turned by second baseman Javier Baez.
It was the type of defense that the Cubs have been playing all season and that the Indians could have used on Tuesday.
Tomlin, who was brilliant in four and two-thirds shutout innings in Game 4 and had a 1.76 E.R.A. in his three playoff starts before Tuesday’s, was not the same. It may have been owing to his seeing the Cubs for the second time — an opportunity his previous playoff opponents had had — or fatigue from pitching on three days’ rest.
The Indians had gone to a three-man rotation out of necessity, after losing two of their starters, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, to injuries late in the season. (Salazar returned for the World Series and pitched in relief on Tuesday.)
“I don’t think this was the plan at all, but when you lose two of your starting pitchers, you have to adjust,” the Indians’ pitching coach, Mickey Callaway, said recently. “When your back is against the wall, you do special things.”
The linchpin of the plan was Kluber, the 2014 Cy Young Award winner, who did not start in the playoff opener because he was recovering from a quadriceps injury. Now he is set to pitch on short rest for the third time in the playoffs.
“We knew that Kluber had to win his starts,” Callaway said. “We didn’t express that to him, but when we’re sitting down looking at things, Kluber’s starts are going to be the most important starts.”
It is apropos that the Indians will turn to Kluber and that he will take the ball at home. He was the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game, which gave the Indians home-field advantage. Soon they will find out if it was worth its weight — and worth the wait.