To Cleveland we go.

The Chicago Cubs kept their title hopes alive on Sunday night, beating Cleveland 3-2, winning their first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945 and sending the Fall Classic back to Progressive Field for Games 6 and 7. Cleveland holds a 3-2 advantage.

Not surprisingly, much of the conversation following Game 5 surrounded Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, who came into the game in the seventh inning and promptly pitched 2.2 shutout innings. It was a unique performance, as Al Leiter said on the MLB Network:

Special indeed.

His 42 pitches were four shy of his career-high for a one-game appearance, per Bob Klapisch of USA Today, and his performance is why this series is heading back to Chicago, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News noted:

It was a gutsy decision by Cubs manager Joe Maddon but one he was prepared to make before the game, according to Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times:

Maddon knew Chapman represented his best chance late in Game 5. His counterpart knew it, too.

“Nobody’s ever running to the bat rack when Chapman’s coming into the game,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona acknowledged to Buster Olney of ESPN.

Still, the Cubs have a major task ahead of them.

They still have to face Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber, although both starters will be on short rest. Thus far in this series, the Cubs have scored all of two runs in 16.2 innings against that pair, losing all three of those games. Additionally, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen loom in the bullpen if Cleveland is able to take a lead into the later innings.

That’s one reason why Mike Golic of Mike & Mike doesn’t believe the Cubs will be able to pull off the comeback:

Dave Zirin of the Nation doesn’t care. He’s just happy to have more baseball:

Nonetheless, it’s an interesting question to ponder whether the Cubs can complete their comeback, on the road, against two pitchers who have been excellent in the postseason. And there are a few reasons to believe they have a chance.

For one, they can reinsert Kyle Schwarber to the lineup as the designated hitter. He wasn’t cleared to play in the field, so he hasn’t been able to start the team’s last three games. But he’s arguably been the Cubs’ best hitter in the World Series, hitting .375 with two walks, two RBI and a run.

Additionally, starting pitchers Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks will be available for Game 6 and Game 7 (if necessary) on full rest, unlike Cleveland’s starters. And outside of Chapman, the Cubs bullpen will be completely rested on Tuesday night. 

Of course, it remains to be seen if Chapman will be available. Miller and Allen most certainly will be for Cleveland.

Finally, consider that the Cubs were tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best road record this season (46-35) and have gone a respectable 4-3 on the road in the postseason. Chicago is no pushover away from home. 

So, no, it isn’t impossible to imagine a scenario where the Cubs come all the way back from a 3-1 series deficit. And that perhaps should make Cleveland fans who mocked the Golden State Warriors for blowing a 3-1 NBA Finals advantage to the Cavaliers a tiny bit nervous, as Sam Amick of USA Today noted:

“It ain’t over till it’s over,” Yogi Berra famously mused, originally about the 1973 National League pennant race. Now, it’s a sentiment that the Cubs are holding on to for dear life. 


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