Indians silence Cubs, seize command of World Series

CHICAGO -- The raucous Chicago Cubs’ crowd, celebrating the first World Series game at Wrigley Field in 71 years, started partying in Wrigleyville in the wee hours of the morning, but by nightfall, all that noise turned to silence.

Nothing, but beautiful silence, for the Cleveland Indians.

The Indians shut out the Cubs, 1-0, stunning the crowd of 41,703, and just like that, the World Series has turned, with the Cubs tying a postseason record with their fourth shutout loss of the postseason.

The Indians lead 2 games to 1, have ace Corey Kluber on the mound for Game 4, have regained home-field advantage, and have history on their side too.

Visiting teams that have won Game 3 have gone onto win the World Series 71% percent of the time.

Maybe, just maybe, this really is the year of Cleveland, with the Indians trying to join the NBA Cavaliers as the champions of their sport.

The Indians limited the Cubs to just five hits, and after struggling to score all evening, finally squeezed one in when on Coco Crisp’s pinch-hit, run-scoring single with one out in the seventh.

That’s all that was needed with starter Josh Tomlin, relievers Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen closing the door.

And stopping the noise.

The Indians, who last won the World Series in 1948, are now two victories away from finishing off their dream season.

The most compelling storyline of the night belonged to Tomlin, who was absolutely brilliant in his 4  2/3 inning stint, giving up just two hits.

Really, Tomlin called it a dream of a lifetime, not only pitching in the World Series, but with his dad sitting behind the plate.

In a wheelchair.

Jerry Tomlin, just two months ago, became paralyzed from the waist down.

It was the first time he had been able to see his son pitch in person since that day in August, when he was working at the power plant in Whitehouse, Texas, and felt that burning sensation in his stomach.

Then, his entire body went numb.

He suffered an arteriovenous malformation, a tangling of blood vessels on his spinal cord, which required surgery.

Tomlin was on the first flight to Texas, and was there when his dad awoke from the surgery.

“He had a lot going on,’’ Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “That was tough. I told him, “The minute you feel like you want to be home, even if it's for your mom, we'll handle this.’’

Tomlin, who went on the family medical emergency list, returned to the team after several days, but his heart and mind were always back home. He yielded a 11.48 ERA in August, and was bumped from the starting rotation.

His father scolded him, telling he needed to get his head back in his game.

The Indians had a World Series to win.

“He's one of the toughest individuals I've ever met in my life," Tomlin said. "He never shies away from anything.’’

Tomlin doesn’t know whether his dad will ever walk again, but for one joyous night, he got to watch his son pitch the game of his life.

“That's pretty special to me,’’ Tomlin said, “and that's something I'll never forget for the rest of my life.’’

Neither will his old man.

“How could you plan it out, or write it out any better than what it is?" Jerry Tomlin told the Associated Press. “To be here for this historic thing they're having here, and to be the first World Series here, and my first World Series, and my son to be here, I don't know, man. It's just hard to explain.

“The way everything planned out, and the way people helped me to get here, man, it's definitely a dream come true.

“There was no way I was going to miss this."

The biggest problem Tomlin had all night was waiting for his teammates to score, with Kyle Hendricks bending all night, but refusing to break.

The Indians put pressure all night on Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, the major league’s ERA leader, producing nine baserunners in the first five innings, but couldn’t score. Four times they put runners on scoring in scoring position, and three times the Indians had runners on third base, but came away empty each time.

You could feel the momentum shift in the fifth inning when the Indians loaded the bases after Hendricks walked Carlos Santana and hit Jason Kipnis with a pitch. Cubs manager Joe Maddon saw enough, and yanked Hendricks, and replaced him with Justin Grimm.

Francisco Lindor, their finest hitter, stepped up to the plate. A hit could end the game with the way these two teams were pitching. Maybe even a sacrifice fly. Grimm, with a 3-and-2 count, threw a curveball. Lindor hit it weakly to second baseman Javier Baez, who flipped it to shortstop Addison Russell, who fired it to first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Double play.

Wrigley Field shook with emotion, as Grimm pounded his chest, Rizzo pumped his fist, and their fans screamed in jubilation.

It was the last time they screamed all night, as everything Francona did, worked to perfection.

The Indians, desperately searching for offense this postseason, hitting .210, tried DH Carlos Santana in left field. He became the player to start a position in a World Series game that he’s never started in the regular season, since Jake Flowers of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1931 when he played third base.

Santana drew two walks before giving way in the fifth inning for Rajai Davis in a double-switch.

“I have anxiety about it," Francona said before the game. “I'm trying to figure out what's our best way to win. If we don't play him out there that's the best way to have nobody second-guess me. I don't know if that's the best way to win.

“The criteria is to put yourself in the best position to win. Nobody has a crystal ball. There could be three balls hit to him that account for a lot of runs. If that happens, then I'll just sit up there and take responsibility.’’

There was just one fly ball hit to Ramirez, which he handled with no problem, and should be back in left field again in Game 4.

Really, everything Francona tried, worked out. He pulled Tomlin out early, and watched Miller completely dominant with 1 1/3 hitless innings. He inserted Bryan Shaw, who gave up two hits in 1 2/3 scoreless innings. And then turned to closer Cody Allen with two outs in the eighth.

Allen struck out Kris Bryant to end the eighth, and then closed out the ninth, bringing nothing but sheer silence.

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