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Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 17 January, 2019

Indians on cusp of World Series glory after blitzing Cubs

Victory in game five on Sunday would see the Cleveland Indians crowned MLB champions.

Cleveland Indians could seal victory later tonight.
Cleveland Indians could seal victory later tonight.

THE CLEVELAND INDIANS are one win away from winning the MLB World Series for the first time since 1948 after crushing the Chicago Cubs 7-2 in game four on Saturday.

After trailing at the end of the opening inning in Chicago, the Indians pilled on seven unanswered runs to claim a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.

Jason Kipnis’ three-run homer broke the game open in the seventh inning as Cubs fans – without a World Series title since 1908 – were silenced at Wrigley Field.

Carlos Santana’s solo home run and Kris Bryant’s error gifted the Indians the lead in the second, Francisco Lindor lined a breaking ball into centre field to make it 3-1 in the third, before a sacrifice fly from Lonnie Chisenhall added to the tally in the sixth.

With his six-inning effort Saturday, right-hander Corey Kluber owns a 0.89 ERA with 35 strikeouts and just eight walks in a little over 30 innings pitched in the postseason. Kluber struck out six to set a new club record with 15 punch outs in one World Series.

Pitching on short rest for the second time in his career, Kluber exited after 81 pitches, setting up a great scenario for the Indians should the club need him in game seven again on short rest.

World Series Indians Cubs Baseball Vince Vaughn sings Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh inning. Source: David J. Phillip

Veteran right-hander John Lackey led the National League with a .103 batting average allowed during a 3-2 count but on Saturday all three Cleveland runs he allowed came on full counts.

What made matters worse for the Cubs were the rare throwing errors by the usually sure-handed Bryant, who committed just 12 during the regular season. Bryant made a throwing error to first base in the second inning, allowing Chisenhall to reach.

Later in the inning, Bryant made another throwing error on Kluber’s infield hit, allowing Chisenhall to score from second. It was Bryant’s fourth error of this postseason. Lackey retired the last eight batters he faced but the damage was done.

Over the past 22 innings, Chicago batters have scored just two runs. Blame it on a dominant Indians staff all you want but the Cubs offense went silent during the NL Division Series too.

One of the most potent line-ups in baseball has just one hit in their last 27 at-bats with runners on base and are five for 37 as a team with runners in scoring position. Sparks for the Cubs in the NL Championship Series,

Willson Contreras and Javy Baez have looked lost at the plate this series and are a combined 3 for 30 against Cleveland.

With two on base in the seventh, Kipnis drove a stake through the city of Chicago after blasting Travis Wood straight to right field.

The Cubs have no time to lick their wounds as they bid to deny the Indians a World Series title on Sunday. Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26 ERA) starts for the second time since being forced to exit game three of the ALCS when his pinkie wound burst open.

Bauer, who has never started on short rest in his career, faces the Cubs for the third time. He lasted just 3.5 innings in game two, allowing two runs on six hits. Jon Lester (19-5, 2.44 ERA) allowed 10 Indians’ baserunners in game one en route to three runs allowed in just over five innings of work.

He will look to bounce back at Wrigley Field, where he owned a 1.74 ERA at during the regular season.

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