The Indians are still playing like the Indians.
The same formula that has worked for Cleveland throughout the postseason — getting ahead and staying there — translated into a 6-0 Game 1 win over the Cubs at Progressive Field Tuesday night.
It improves the Indians to 8-1 this postseason, having now claimed four shutouts while giving up a total of just 15 runs. The shutout was Cleveland’s fourth of the playoffs, tying them with four other teams for the major league postseason record.
It was a victory that bodes well for Terry Francona’s team, with 12 of the last 13 Game 1 winners have gone on to win the World Series. Francona also remains undefeated in World Series play, having now won all nine of the Fall Classic games he has managed.
The stars in this one were Cleveland starter Corey Kluber and his catcher, Roberto Perez.
Kluber absolutely dominated the Cubs from the get-go. The Indians’ ace became the first pitcher in postseason history to strikeout eight batters in the first three innings. He would go on to pitch six scoreless innnings, allowing just four hits while fanning nine and not walking a batter.
Perez supplied a good chunk of the Indians’ offense, hitting a pair of home runs. The first one was a fourth-inning solo shot, with the catcher then sealing the win with an eighth-inning, three-run blast.
The first threat mounted by the Cubs didn’t come until seventh inning when Kluber was driven from the game after Ben Zobrist hit the righty’s 88th, and final, pitch into left field for a leadoff single. Reliever Andrew Miller proceeded to load the bases after Kyle Schwarber walk and Javier Baez single.
But Miller came back to induce a fly out to shallow center off the bat of pinch-hitter Wilson Contreras before striking out both Addison Russell and David Ross.
Miller had to get out of a jam again in the eighth, putting runners on first and second with two outs. But the lefty fanned Schwarber with a slider on what was a season-high 46th pitch.
Taking the loss was Chicago starter Jon Lester, whose only real poor inning came in the first when he gave up a run-scoring infield single off the bat of Jose Ramirez before forcing in a run by hitting Brandon Guyer. The only other run given up by Lester came on Perez’s solo homer.
Lester finished his 5 2/3-inning outing having allowed six hits, while striking out seven and walking three.