Cody Allen, Andrew Miller and the Cleveland Indians crashed a Wrigley Field party 71 years in the making.
Leave it to that sensational bullpen to silence the Chicago Cubs and their revved-up fans.
Allen escaped a ninth-inning jam and the Indians set a major league record with their fifth shutout this postseason, holding off the Cubs 1-0 Friday night for a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
“As fun of a game as it was to be a part of, that was agonizing because we used so many guys,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Pinch-hitter Coco Crisp delivered an RBI single in the seventh off Carl Edwards Jr. And that was all Cleveland needed to win the first Series game at Wrigley since 1945.
The crowd began forming beyond the ivy-covered walls in the early morning, all pumped for the big day. And fans, some who paid thousands of dollars to pack the seats and nearby rooftops, were roaring after a two-out error by first baseman Mike Napoli helped Chicago put runners on second and third in the ninth.
Allen quieted the neighbourhood ballpark, striking out co-NL Championship Series MVP Javier Baez to end it.
“We know we’re going to have our hands full to beat these guys, and tonight was a good example,” Francona said. “I mean, that was as close a ballgame as you’re ever going to find, and we found a way to manage to win that game.”
Indians starter Josh Tomlin went 4 2/3 innings with his dad Jerry watching from the stands in a wheelchair just two months after circulatory malformation left him paralyzed from the chest down. Miller, Bryan Shaw and Allen took over.
Indians: first team to record 5 shutouts in a postseason
The Cubs have been blanked four times in the last eight games this postseason. Their first 1-0 loss in the World Series since Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox beat them in 1918 came on a night when the wind was blowing out.
“I actually told Miller we were going to win 1-0 tonight,” Napoli said. “Everything you saw on the TV was the wind was blowing out and there’s going to be a bunch of runs scored.”
“I turned to him and was like, `We’re going to win 1-0 tonight.”‘
Cleveland now has a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead with ace Corey Kluber starting Game 4 on short rest Saturday and coming off a dominant performance in the opener. John Lackey pitches for Chicago.
Cleveland riding pitching and poise
Not since they dropped Game 7 against Detroit in 1945 had the Cubs hosted a World Series game. The last time they won one? That was two days earlier when they beat the Tigers in 12 innings.
Decades of disappointment and curses gave way to a major league-leading 103 wins and hope for the Cubs that their first championship since 1908 is on the way.
But just as they did against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS, they will have to rally from a 2-1 deficit if they are finally going to win it all.
“We have seen good pitching,” manager Joe Maddon said. “The one component of our team that’s going to blossom over the next couple years is the offensive side. I think what you’re seeing on defense and arm strengths and baserunning abilities, that’s going to be pretty much static. But the part that’s going to keep getting better is what we’re doing at the plate. So this is a great experience for us.”
Miller got the final out for Tomlin in the fifth, stranding a runner at second. The ALCS MVP then struck out Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the sixth.
Shaw worked the seventh and exited after Fowler singled with two out in the eighth. Allen fanned Bryant to end the inning.
Rizzo opened the ninth with a single and took second on a one-out grounder. Jason Heyward followed with a grounder that Napoli misplayed, but at least the big guy kept the ball in front of him and kept the tying run from scoring.
Heyward stole second without a throw before Allen fanned Baez for this sixth save this postseason.
Two more wins and the Indians will claim the first championship since 1948. The Cubs still need three more for the first crown in 108 years.
“It’s just good chemistry over here and our guys kept their poise,” Crisp said. “Our pitching did a great job, their pitching did a great job over there and that’s what type of series this is going to be, it seems like.”
Historic night on the North Side
It was quite a scene in and around the ballpark, one generations of long-suffering Cubs fans had never witnessed.
They started flooding the streets surrounding Wrigley hours before the gates opened. By mid-afternoon, the blocks outside the 102-year-old ballpark were a sea of blue.
Fans carried “W” signs and took selfies near the famed marquee and statues of the late Harry Caray, Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, cherished figures in Cubs lore who would have loved nothing more than to be part of this.
There were red roses near the feet of all three. There were also four green apples on Caray’s statue — three on top of the base and one in his left hand — in a fitting tribute. After all, the famed broadcaster promised after the final game in 1991: “Sure as God made green apples, someday, the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series — and maybe sooner than we think.”
But this just wasn’t Chicago’s night.
The Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks, dominant in the clinching NLCS victory over Los Angeles, exited with the bases loaded in the fifth after he hit Chicago-area product Jason Kipnis.
Justin Grimm then got Francisco Lindor to ground into 4-6-3 double play and gave a huge pump of the right fist as the crowd roared.