On a night that the wind was fiercely blowing out at Wrigley Field, the Cubs were shut out, 1-0, by Josh Tomlin and three relievers as the Cleveland Indians took a two-games-to-one lead in the Series.
Coco Crisp drove in the only run of the game with a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning, and Cody Allen pitched around a leadoff single in the ninth by Rizzo and a two-out error by first baseman Mike Napoli to strike out Javier Baez with the tying and winning runs in scoring position.
The Cubs have failed to score in their last four playoff losses, including both defeats in the World Series.
It was nevertheless a tense, taut affair in which both Maddon and his Cleveland counterpart, Terry Francona, managed aggressively.
The Indians finally broke through in the seventh when Roberto Perez led off with a single, pinch-runner Michael Martinez went to second on a bunt and to third on a wild pitch, and Rajai Davis walked. That left Francona with a decision: whether to pinch-hit for his best reliever Andrew Miller, who had buzzed through the sixth by striking out the side on 13 pitches.
Francona, who had seen the Indians strand a runner at third on three previous occasions, summoned a pinch-hitter. He sent up Crisp, the 36-year-old veteran who helped Francona win the 2007 World Series in Boston. Crisp, who was acquired from Oakland in late August, jumped on the first pitch from Carl Edwards Jr. and singled to right.
The Cubs’ best chance to get even came in the seventh when Jorge Soler’s fly ball down the right-field line befuddled outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, who misplayed it into a two-out triple. But Bryan Shaw recovered and calmly retired Addison Russell on a groundout to end the inning.
Setting the tone for the Indians pitchers was Tomlin. He was pitching in front of his father for the first time since he learned he had from arteriovenous malformation, a rare tangling of the blood vessels on his spinal cord that has left him paralyzed since August.
Tomlin allowed only two singles and a walk, but Francona’s itchy trigger finger beckoned the superb Andrew Miller from the bullpen with Jorge Soler at second and two out in the fifth.
If the night was memorable for Tomlin, it was also for those who packed the ballpark. The first World Series game at Wrigley Field in 71 years was treated like a once-in-a-lifetime affair.
Fans began congregating in Wrigleyville, the neighborhood centered on the intersection of Clark and Addison Streets, early in the morning. Some bars along Clark were charging $25 to $50 just to get in the front door, and by midafternoon, cars were no longer being allowed to get within a block of the ballpark. By late in the afternoon, Clark was so congested with foot traffic that police on horseback formed a tight line at the corner of Addison, keeping fans from flooding the intersection.
Maddon likened his drive to work like a video game, weaving in and out of cars and pedestrians.
“Thank God there’s not another round after this, I’ll say that,” Maddon said. “I’m ready for the family vacation. But it’s spectacular in all the best. Hyperbole definitely suits right now — whatever you want to throw out there, it really matches up to what’s going on right now.”
As Janet and Jack Adams, season-ticket holders from suburban Mount Prospect, sat in the upper deck watching batting practice, they considered that they were born in 1947, two years after the Cubs had lost in seven games to Detroit.
“It doesn’t seem real to be sitting here,” Janet Adams said.
The shift to a National League park also had an effect on each team’s lineup. Doctors advised the Cubs that playing Schwarber, who returned from a major knee surgery in April to be the designated hitter in the first two games in Cleveland, in the outfield would be too risky, so he sat on the bench hoping to impact the game as a pinch-hitter.
Schwarber got his chance in the eighth, but reliever Bryan Shaw busted a 2-1 fastball in on his hands, shattering Schwarber’s bat and resulting in a soft pop up to the shortstop Lindor.
As shaky as Schwarber is in the outfield — he misplayed several balls in the National League Championship Series loss to the Mets last season — the Indians had a similar decision to make with how to keep their rotating first base/designated hitter tandem, Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana, in the lineup.
Francona chose to keep Napoli at first and use Santana in left field, a position he had not played since 2012.
“There’s a little bit of a crapshoot to that,” Francona said. “I’m aware of that. I have some anxiety over that, but like I said, I’d rather do that than play it safe and look up and we don’t have any runs.”
Francona got three plate appearances out of Santana — two of which he walked — and cut his losses, bringing in Davis for his defense in the fifth.
There was nothing dicey about the Cubs’ defense, which during the regular season was rated the best in baseball according to many metrics. Russell laid out to make a diving catch of Tyler Naquin’s line drive and started a 6-4-3, inning-ending double play. Hendricks helped himself twice: picking Lindor off first and making a slick scoop of Russell’s relay throw on an attempted double play in the fourth. If Hendricks had not, Lindor surely would have raced home from third.
The defense did its most important work after Hendricks departed with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. Justin Grimm came on to face Lindor, who had singled twice and worked the count after falling behind 0-2. But Lindor grounded a curveball to Baez, who started a 4-6-3 double play that left Grimm furiously pumping his fist and the crowd roaring.
But defense was not the problem for the Cubs. Once again, swinging the bats was.