The Chicago Cubs find themselves in a difficult situation as they prepare for Game 4 of the World Series.

The Cleveland Indians are sending ace Corey Kluber to the mound with a 2-1 lead in the World Series, and he has already dominated the Cubs lineup once. They need to find a way to get to him or they face the very real possibility of going down three games to one.

Going into the World Series, Cleveland manager Terry Francona set up his starting pitching rotation so Kluber could pitch Game 1, Game 4 and Game 7. In that scenario, the Indians would have to come out on the winning side of one other game if they were going to earn their first title since 1948.

They earned that victory in Game 3 as the Indians pulled out a 1-0 win with starter Josh Tomlin and relievers Andrew Miller, Bud Shaw and Cody Allen holding the Cubs in check.

The Indians scored the only run of the game in the top of the seventh inning as pinch hitter Coco Crisp lined a one-out single to right field that brought in pinch runner Michael Martinez. The Indians had threatened several times in the first six innings, but starter Kyle Hendricks and reliever Jason Grimm had quashed those threats with excellent pitching.

The Cubs did not have a strong threat until the bottom of the ninth inning. Anthony Rizzo singled to open the inning, and pinch runner Chris Coghlan advanced to second on a ground ball.

With two outs, pinch hitter Jason Heyward hit a ground ball that got to first baseman Mike Napoli on an awkward hop, and he could only keep the ball in front of him and was charged with an error. Heyward stole second, giving Javier Baez an opportunity with runners on second and third to tie or possibly win the game with a base hit.

Allen worked him perfectly and struck him out on a high fastball to end the game. The shutout was the Indians’ fifth of the postseason, a new major league record.

While Kluber will get the ball for the Indians in Game 4 at 8:08 p.m. ET (Fox TV), veteran John Lackey gets the starting assignment for the Cubs. Lackey has played the role of World Series hero in previous stints with the Anaheim Angels in 2002 and the Boston Red Sox in 2013.

Kluber had an 18-9 record with a 3.14 earned run average and a 1.056 WHIP during the regular season. He has been even better in the postseason with a 3-1 record, a 0.74 ERA and a 0.986 WHIP.

Lackey, clearly the Cubs’ No. 4 starter this season behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Hendricks, was 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.057 WHIP. Lackey has pitched 8.0 innings in the postseason and has given up five earned runs as he heads into Game 4 of the World Series.

Kluber would appear to have the advantage, but he is pitching with just three days of rest. Additionally, the Cubs are now familiar with him, because he pitched 6.0 innings against them in the series opener.

However, they will have to swing the bats a lot better than they did in Game 1, when Kluber struck out nine and gave up just four hits without walking a batter.

Kluber told Paul Hoynes of that he is not worried about pitching on short rest. 

“It’s basically doing the same stuff in one less day,” Kluber said. “Your side sessions are a little shorter and things like that, but I’m still able to get in the things I need to do.”



The Cubs had the best record in the regular season by a wide margin this year, and they are a confident team. 

While they rarely had any problems in the regular season, the San Francisco Giants pushed them hard in the National League Division Series and the Los Angeles Dodgers also tested them in the NLCS.

They responded to adversity in both of those series, and they will in the World Series as well. Look for Lackey to play the role of bulldog on the mound and fight his way out of trouble. Kluber will have a strong game for the Indians, but the Cubs will do just enough to build a lead.

Look for the Cubs to come away with a 3-2 win and tie the series at two games each.

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