What to watch for tonight in Game 6 of the World Series:
The Cleveland Indians can win their first championship since 1948 with a victory over the visiting Chicago Cubs. The city is primed to party, too, after Cleveland fans missed out on hosting this year’s biggest sports events so far. LeBron James and the Cavaliers completed their NBA Finals comeback on the road, beating Golden State in Game 7 for Cleveland’s first major pro sports title in 52 years. The Indians clinched the AL Central crown at Detroit, won the Division Series in Boston and the AL Championship Series at Toronto. “It would be nice to actually do one in front of the home crowds,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said.
Trailing 3-2 in the Series, the Cubs need a win to force a decisive seventh game Wednesday night. They’ll turn to 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta in Game 6, while the Indians counter with Josh Tomlin, a back-end starter working on short rest.
Inconsistent throughout his postseason career, Arrieta took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning of his Game 2 win last Wednesday. He’ll have five days between starts, one more than normal.
Tomlin, meanwhile, will be on only three days’ rest since throwing 58 pitches over 4 2/3 smooth innings during Cleveland’s 1-0 victory in Game 3. After losing his rotation spot while slumping in August, the 32-year-old righty has stepped up in the absence of injured Indians starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar this postseason, going 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA in three starts.
Even with Kris Bryant hitting a home run in Game 5, the Cubs are still waiting for some of their big bats to break loose. They’ve totaled just 10 runs so far in the World Series — that’s their worst production for any five-game stretch this season.
Bryant, a leading contender for NL MVP, and Javier Baez, co-MVP of the NL Championship Series, are a combined 5 for 38 (.132) with 16 strikeouts and only one RBI.
Much has been made about Kyle Schwarber returning to Chicago’s lineup, but the switch back to American League rules in Cleveland also allows the Indians to start sharp-eyed slugger Carlos Santana in his regular role as designated hitter again. During the three games at Wrigley Field, Santana made one start at first base and two in left field, a position he had not played since 2012. “I was really proud of him,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “I’ll be glad that we can DH somebody, though.”
Derek Jeter became baseball’s first “Mr. November” when he hit a World Series home run in the 10th inning to win Game 4 at Yankee Stadium in 2001. He connected moments after the clock struck midnight in the majors’ first game that stretched into November.
This is the fifth season that’s going past October. Last year, the Royals clinched their crown by beating the Mets 7-2 in 12 innings in Game 5 on Nov. 1.
The latest action came on Nov. 4 — the Diamondbacks rallied past the Yankees in Game 7 in 2001, then the Yanks beat the Phillies in Game 6 in 2009.