The Chicago Cubs lost game one of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians 6-0 in Cleveland last night. It was an exciting and stressful game that didn't blow up until Roberto Perez hit a 3 run homer in the 8th to double the Indians' 3-0 score, making it 6-0. There was a lot to be learned from the game, so here's some good news, bad news for the Cubs.
The good news--we had a ton of opportunities last night to score runs against the Indians: the Cubs had 9 men on base. We struck the Indians out a lot: 9 K's for the Cubs through 9 innings, 7 of which were by Lester in his 5.2 innings. We didn't walk the Indians too much: 4 walks total, but 3 for Lester including 2 in the first which eventually set up the Indians' first and second runs of the night, coming off a heartbreaking shallow infield hit by Jose Ramirez and then Lester hitting Brandon Guyer with a pitch. The Cubs did technically hit the ball: 7 total hits including the postseason stud Ben Zobrist going 3 for 4. Best news of all, Kyle Schwarber not only is back and in the lineup, but he played very well: Schwarbo went 1 for 3 (a double), drew a walk, and really made their pitchers work.
The bad news--if you couldn't already tell from the recapping of walks, Lester's first inning, and of course the 0-6 outcome of the game--we didn't do anything with any of our opportunities against the Indians. From a runs scored perspective, we literally did nothing. The Cubs were 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left all 9 of our men on base. Although the Cubs struck out the Indians 9 times, the Indians struck the Cubs out 15 times, a whopping 9 of which were by Kluber in his 6 innings. As if the Cubs' 4 and particularly first 2 walks didn't kill us enough, the Indians only walked 2 Cubs, obviously neither of which resulted in any runs scored for the Cubbies. The Cubs were 7 for 34 batting while the Indians were 10 for 33. Kyle Schwarber was a confident and threatening presence at the plate, but he struck out twice and should have been thrown at at second on a oh-so-close-to-dropping centerfield fly ball, a wild play that was simply super lucky for the big baby bear.
This bad news all looks bad because not only is it statistically and win-loss bad, but also the Cubs offense looked bad via the eye test all night long. Dexter Fowler was 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts; Kris Bryant was 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts; Rizzo was 0 for 4; Coghlan was 0 for 2 with 2 strikeouts (as he was put in to no avail for the offensively struggling Jason Heyward); Addison Russell was 0 for 4 and struck out super hard 3 times. The pitching wasn't phenomenal by any standards, either--outside of Jon Lester's off night, Justin Grimm had 2 ER in 1 inning and Rondon gave up 1 ER on Perez's 3-run blast in only 0.1 IP.
In short, the Cubs played bad and lost while the Indians played great and won. Terry Francona is now 9-0 as a manager in the World Series, so no matter how this World Series turns out it's probably hard to watch and think about as a Red Sox fan (thank you for Theo we love him very, very much).
However, for as bad as this news all is, the Chicago Cubs are going to be fine. It was just game one, which is not to say that the loss isn't very difficult or meaningful, but just that the Cubs are only down 0-1. If the Cubs pitching can get back on track to even close to their usual level of excellence, they should be able to keep the admittedly scary Indians' offense under reasonable control. If you take Ben Z and Schwarbo out of the mix, pretty much none of the Cubs' starters hit the ball. Fortunately, you don't take them out. Better than just the fact that they remain, though, if everyone else on the team who was 0 for almost every AB starts to hit the ball even just a little bit, those 9 men left on base become at least a few runs. If the Indians keep playing as great as they are but our offense, defense, and pitching warms up--as it should--from the frigid, frozen, cold that they were last night, the Cubs will play some real baseball and compete.
Game one was a hard, convincing loss where a lot of guys looked lost at the plate, but the Cubs aren't lost just because they did lose. They'll get it going because they are a great baseball team with a great, great manager. These are the World Series Chicago Cubs we're talking about here, so they'll bounce back. Cleveland is a great team and there is not reason to suspect that they will play worse than they are. However, Chicago is also a great team and there is lots of reason to suspect and expect that they'll play much, much better.
Game two is tonight and you can bet your boots every single one of our Chicago Cubbies is ready to prove that they are the good news baby bears.