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Chicago Cubs Win Game Five, Series Returns to Cleveland

By Joshua Greenberg – Last Word On Baseball

The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs will play at least one more game before the 2016 World Series is decided. On Sunday, the Cubs downed the Indians in Game Five, sending the Series back to Cleveland for a sixth matchup on Tuesday. Chicago got its first World Series win at Wrigley Field since Game Six of the 1945 Series.

Jon Lester turned in one of his classic dominant playoff performances, striking out five while allowing just two runs and four hits over six innings. The Cubs offense got to Trevor Bauer, who had been cruising with seven strikeouts, in the fourth, and forced him from the game. The defense made some great plays and Aroldis Chapman, Chicago’s fireballing closer, pitched the final 2.2 innings of the game to secure the win and save the rest of Chicago’s bullpen.

Cubs Win Game Five, Series Returns to Cleveland

Lester and Chapman Step Up

Down two games in the series and facing elimination in their own stadium, the Cubs needed their big guns to step up. They acquired both Lester and Chapman for moments such as this. Over his career, Lester has been one of the most dominant postseason pitchers in the game. If this scenario was constructed for any pitcher, that pitcher is Lester. As for Chapman, a shutdown closer cannot be overvalued. Just ask the 2015 Kansas City Royals.

When it mattered most, both answered the call. Though Lester did have to work around some trouble, including a second inning solo homer off the bat of Jose Ramirez, he blanked the Indians offense when it mattered most. He delivered a shutdown inning following the Cubs breakthrough in the fourth inning, and declined to issue a walk. His emotion fueled the Cubs and drove Sunday’s win.

Chapman was asked to get eight outs, a tall order for any reliever to fill, and did not disappoint. He faced only two batters more than the minimum, and recorded four of his eight outs by way of strikeout. While he did throw 42 pitches, he has an off-day to recover while the Cubs travel to Cleveland. He should be ready to go for Tuesday night.

Cubs Offense Finds a Way

While Chicago’s normally explosive offense has shown up on occasion in the postseason, it has been far too quiet far too often. On Sunday, while the bats did not really come alive, the found a way to do enough to win. A solo home run by Kris Bryant, the presumptive 2016 National League MVP, provided the spark in the fourth inning, and the rest of the offense found a way to put up the two other runs they needed to win. Anthony Rizzo doubled and Javier Baez, a hero of the NLCS who had been struggling in the World Series, kept things going with a key bunt. It was far from a fireworks show, but it might be enough to give the Cubs some confidence going into yet another elimination game.

The Cubs Still Have to Win Two More Games

Though Chicago can feel good about this win, they can’t afford to relax. The Cubs still have to win two more games if they want to take home the trophy, and they have to face both Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber. They got to Bauer tonight, but they had gotten to him once before. In their previous matchups with Tomlin and Kluber, they were held in check. The Cubs will have to find a way to change that if they want to rewrite history in Cleveland.

Game Six Preview

Game Six will take place at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Tuesday, November 1, at 8:00 P.M. Eastern. Tomlin will attempt to close out the series for the Indians. On the other end, reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta will try to extend it to a seventh game. Arrieta was great in his previous World Series start, and will look to deliver a repeat performance.

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