The Chicago Cubs have won two must-games in a row. If they are going to win their first World Series since 1908, they will have to make it a hat trick.

The Cubs jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in Game 6, thanks in large part to some shaky outfield play by the Cleveland Indians in the first inning and a grand slam by Addison Russell in the third inning. The Cubs came away with a 9-3 victory to tie the World Series at three games each.

The Cubs got on the board in the first inning when Kris Bryant hit a two-out solo home run, and they added two more runs when center fielder Tyler Naquin and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall let Russell’s fly ball drop between them.

Jake Arrieta was the beneficiary of Cleveland’s generosity and the Cubs’ offensive display, and he gave manager Joe Maddon 5.2 innings of three-hit baseball in which he allowed two earned runs.

However, as one-sided as the game was, Maddon appeared to make a strange move when he brought in closer Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning with a five-run lead.

Chapman, who had pitched 2.2 innings Sunday in a high-stress situation, pitched into the ninth inning when he was replaced Pedro Strop.

With the seventh game looming, just how much will Chapman have left in the tank?

Game 7 will belong to starting pitchers Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs and Corey Kluber of the Indians. Hendricks had a special regular season and has been sharp in the postseason with a 1-1 record and a 1.31 earned-run average in 20.2 innings. He has struck out 17 batters and walked six.

Kluber has had a dominant postseason as he has compiled a 4-1 record with a 0.89 ERA in 30.1 innings. He has struck out 35 batters and walked just eight.

Hendricks has had one more day of rest than Kluber, but the big pitchers in the Cleveland bullpen are well-rested. Andrew Miller has not pitched since Saturday, while Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw haven’t pitched since Sunday.

“This is the ultimate dream,’’ Hendricks told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “You dream of getting to the World Series, winning the World Series.”

Kluber was somewhat philosophical about his role. “First, and foremost,’’ Kluber told Nightengale, “it’s been a blast. I think we’ve all really enjoyed ourselves. I think we can take a lot from the way we approached it, not not treating it more than just each game is another game.’’

The Cubs scored three runs in Sunday’s Game 5 victory and then broke out with nine runs in Game 6. Bryant and Anthony Rizzo both hit home runs in the game, and Kyle Schwarber also had a hit batting in the No. 2 hole.

If the Cubs can continue to hit, they should have an excellent chance of ending their 108-year World Series drought. However, the Indians have their pitching set up well for the decisive game, and if Kluber can remain sharp, they will have an excellent chance of winning their first World Series since 1948.



The seventh game of the World Series is a special event, and the pitching matchup between Hendricks and Kluber seems somewhat reminiscent of the 1991 Atlanta Braves-Minnesota Twins matchup that featured John Smoltz squaring off against Jack Morris.

The Twins and Morris won that game 1-0 in 10 innings.

This game may not go extra innings, but it should be a memorable battle between two great starters.

However, the Indians have the stronger bullpen, and their top relievers appear to be in an excellent position. Look for the Indians to win the World Series as they earn a 3-2 Game 7 victory.

That will mark the end of Cleveland’s frustration, but the Cubs will go into 2017 with a 109-year dry spell.

Read more MLB news on