The Cleveland Indians struck first in a World Series 176 combined years in the making with a 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Tuesday’s Game 1 at Progressive Field.

It was a showdown of aces with Corey Kluber and Jon Lester on the mound, and the Indians’ No. 1 prevailed. He baffled Cubs hitters through six-plus scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and striking out nine.

Lester couldn’t match him and was pulled after 5.2 innings. He surrendered three earned runs on six hits and three walks while striking out seven.

Kluber had two things Lester didn’t: Roberto Perez on offense and Andrew Miller in the bullpen. Perez hit .183 with three home runs in the regular season but drilled two long balls for four RBI on Tuesday. Jesse Spector of Sporting News put the performance in context:

Miller worked out of a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the seventh and another sticky situation in the eighth with runners on the corners and two outs. Cody Allen finished the game in the ninth.

Chicago hasn’t won the Fall Classic since 1908, while Cleveland last captured the title in 1948. ESPN Stats & Info underscored the Indians’ victory:

Perez didn’t provide the only offense for Cleveland. Jose Ramirez tallied three hits and an RBI, Francisco Lindor had three hits and a run scored and Brandon Guyer notched an RBI, which was plenty of support for Kluber.

Retired pitcher Dan Haren weighed in on the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner’s performance:

The Indians wasted little time getting to Lester with a two-out rally in the first. Lindor singled and stole second, Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana walked and Ramirez dribbled an infield hit down the third base line to open the scoring. Lester then hit Guyer to put the Indians ahead 2-0.

JJ Cooper of Baseball America wrote, “When Jose Ramirez tells his grandkids about that RBI, it will be a rope to the wall,” while Jordan Bastian of pointed out Guyer is accustomed to getting hit:

One of the primary storylines for the series took center stage in the second when Kyle Schwarber hit with Ben Zobrist on second. Schwarber tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee in April and appeared to be done for the season until he was added to the Cubs roster for the World Series.

But Schwarber struck out, and Kluber worked out of the inning with punchouts of Javier Baez and Chris Coghlan as well. The ace had five strikeouts through two frames, and Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports noted it was business as usual for the formidable righty:

Kluber continued his dominance with three more strikeouts in the third. According to Sports Illustrated, he became the first pitcher in World Series history to tally eight strikeouts through three innings.

CBS Sports MLB highlighted the movement on Kluber’s pitches:

In Schwarber’s next at-bat, he doubled off the top of the right-center field wall in the fourth. While it was to no avail on the scoreboard, it was a testament to his overwhelming talent and hard work in rehab that he did so against one of the league’s best pitchers after missing more than six months.

Perez cleared the left field wall with a blast in the bottom of the frame. His homer gave Cleveland a commanding 3-0 lead, and Jon Tayler of Sports Illustrated noted the unlikely source:

Cubs manager Joe Maddon removed Lester from the game in the sixth with Ramirez on second base and two outs, and Pedro Strop struck out Perez to escape the jam. While they missed a chance to add to their lead, the Indians were still in full control thanks to Kluber.

Tony Andracki of CSN Chicago said the performance was so incredible that Cubs fans may have been instead hoping to take a shot at Miller and his lockdown stuff:

Cleveland manager Terry Francona elected to keep Kluber in to start the seventh but removed him after Zobrist led off with a single.

In came Miller, the American League Championship Series MVP. He walked Schwarber and allowed a single to Baez to load the bases but bounced back, inducing a pop out by Willson Contreras and striking out Addison Russell and David Ross to end the threat.

Troy Renck of Denver 7 speculated Ross would have been better off not swinging at the 3-2 slider he struck out on:

Chicago made Miller work again in the eighth when Kris Bryant walked with one out and Zobrist singled with two outs, but Schwarber struck out as the potential tying run. The only positive from the Cubs’ perspective was the fact Miller threw 46 pitches, which could limit his availability for Wednesday’s Game 2.

Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine captured just how unhittable Miller has been in October:

Perez all but sealed the game with his three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, and Allen closed the door.


What’s Next?

Game 2 is set for 7 p.m. ET Wednesday in Cleveland.

The Indians held serve in Game 1, but the Cubs can still earn a split on the road before heading to Wrigley Field for Games 3, 4 and 5. If Cleveland wins, its worst possible scenario would be a 3-2 deficit when it returns home for Game 6 and a potential Game 7.

Jake Arrieta will take the ball for Chicago. The 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner wasn’t as dominant this year as last but finished with an impressive 3.10 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.

Bastian noted that Francona said Trevor Bauer is slated to counter Arrieta. Bauer pitched just 0.2 innings in Game 3 of the ALCS before leaving because a laceration on the pinkie finger of his pitching hand began to bleed profusely.

If he pitches anything like Kluber did in Game 1, the Indians will be in good shape.


Postgame Reaction

The Cleveland Police were in the World Series spirit after the game:

Kluber talked about his outing with Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, via Fox Sports MLB:

Perez discussed his impressive performance with Fox Sports’ Tom Verducci, via Fox Sports MLB:

“We didn’t play as bad as that looked,” Maddon said, per Richard Justice of

Schwarber also looked at things with a glass-half-full approach, per 670 The Score in Chicago: “We’re not going to go press. … We’re here for a reason. We’re a good baseball team.”

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