Indians have second chance to wrap up championship
CLEVELAND — Josh Tomlin looked forward to Halloween and dressing up with his daughters, 2-year-old Makenzie Jae and 1-year-old Myla Kate.
“I might be daddy piggy,” he said.
With Cleveland anticipating the city’s first World Series championship since 1948 — and its first title clincher at home since 1920 — the Indians’ Game 6 starter was happy to be back home ahead of his outing against the Chicago Cubs tonight.
Chicago closed to 3-2 with Sunday’s win at Wrigley Field. The Cubs, who haven’t won it all since 1908, are trying to become the first team to overcome a 3-1 Series deficit since the 1985 Kansas City Royals and the first to do it by winning Games 6 and 7 on the road since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rather than celebrate in the cramped visitors’ clubhouse at Wrigley, the Indians are in position to party in their own digs at Progressive Field — where a makeshift shrine to Jobu, the Voodoo idol from the Cleveland clubhouse in the 1989 film “Major League,” was erected in a stall between the lockers of Mike Napoli and Jason Kipnis.
“He’s just chilling over there, doing his thing,” Napoli said.
Cleveland fans have missed out on being there for this year’s big events: First, the Cavaliers completed their NBA Finals comeback on the road, beating Golden State in Game 7 for the city’s first major pro sports championship in 52 years. Then, the Indians clinched the AL Central crown at Detroit, won the Division Series in Boston and the AL Championship Series at Toronto.
“It’ll be ideal. We have a better situation to do it now,” Kipnis said. “It would be nice to actually do one in front of the home crowds.”
The baseball season spills into an unusual month for the fifth time, with Rocktober parties replaced by two teams hoping for a November to remember.
Jake Arrieta, who pitched no-hit ball into the sixth inning to win Game 2, starts on five days’ rest for the Cubs against Tomlin, who will have had three days off since throwing 58 pitches in his Game 3 no-decision.
If the Cubs force Game 7, Kyle Hendricks would pitch on regular rest for Chicago against Corey Kluber, who would make another start on short rest and try to become the first pitcher to win three starts in one Series since Detroit’s Mickey Lolich in 1968.
Chicago delayed its charter flight to Cleveland until Monday night. In the Wrigley Field clubhouse, a message said: “Halloween costumes are encouraged on the plane.”
“We wanted them to have the opportunity to be with their kids today during the Halloween moment,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “After that game last night, believe me, man, I was in no mood to get up and travel today. I think it actually is working out pretty well. We’re going to get in at a really good hour, grab stuff to eat and go to bed.”
With the switch to the American League ballpark, the designated hitter is back: Carlos Santana for the Indians and Kyle Schwarber for the Cubs. Schwarber was out from April 7 until the Series opener after tearing knee ligaments. He has not been given medical clearance to play the field, so he was limited to one pinch-hitting appearance at home. He is 3 for 8 in the Series with a double, two walks and two RBIs.
“When I managed in the American League, I always thought it was somewhat of a disadvantage going to the National League, subtracting one offensive player, and probably even more pronounced for different teams that have really profound, legitimate DHs,” Maddon said. “But for right now, at this moment in time, the fact that Kyle cannot play defense but can still play offense and run the bases, it does work out well for us.”
At Wrigley, Santana made two starts in left field, a position he had not played since 2012, and one at first base.
“It helps keeping the body warm, and I like being out there in the field,” he said. “Being a designated hitter is a bit more complicated. I try to gather advice on how to do it better. I always ask David Ortiz, and he’s giving me good pointers, but there’s still room to improve.”
Both teams were among the big leagues’ best at home this year. Chicago led with a 57-24 record, and Cleveland was tied for second with 53 victories in its own ballpark.
“When you’re on the road, one, it’s kind of you against the world, which is OK,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “But the biggest thing of all is when you’re the home team, you hit last, so you get to use your bullpen differently, and that’s a huge advantage.”
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.