Indians lead series 3-1
Hosting its first World Series in 71 years, Wrigley Field has become a playground for — of all teams — the Cleveland Indians, who can clinch their first World Series title since 1948 when they visit the reeling Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of the Fall Classic on Sunday. After taking Game 2 in Cleveland to tie the series, the Cubs have fallen flat in two contests at the cozy confines, turning a fanbase’s long wait for October glory into a potentially devastating outcome.
Corey Kluber was solid through six innings and Chicago native Jason Kipnis had a three-run homer among three hits in Saturday’s 7-2 triumph for the Indians, who saw manager Terry Francona improve to 11-1 all-time in the World Series and pull within one victory of his third career crown. “I’m starting to (imagine what it would be like to win at Wrigley Field),” Kipnis told FOX. “I’m starting to. I’ve got a lot of friends and family here. To be able to do it in Chicago, it would mean a lot.” At the very least, the Cubs have the decided advantage on the mound in Game 5, as postseason standout Jon Lester opposes Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer, who has struggled since cutting a finger while repairing a drone prior to the American League Championship Series. Cleveland slugger Mike Napoli will return to the staring lineup after sitting out the start of Game 4 while Chicago may need to shuffle a lineup that is hitting .204 in the series and has seen MVP candidate Kris Bryant go 1-for-14.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, FOX
WEATHER REPORT: The weather for this evening at Wrigley Field is calling for partly cloudy conditions and temperatures in the lower-50’s. The wind, that has been a huge factor in the first two games in Chicago, will be relatively light (7-10 mph) and blowing in from left-center field.
SERIES PRICE (PER SPORTS INTERACTION):
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “The difference in this series so far has been the Cubs’ lack of offense, averaging just 1.8 runs per game compared to the Indians averaging 3.8 runs per game. The wind is currently blowing in from center field which could limit the long ball in Game 5 tonight. The Indians now have a 78% chance of winning the World Series with a 3-1 series lead, but only a 32% chance of clinching in Chicago tonight.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Trevor Bauer (0-1, 5.00 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Jon Lester (2-1, 1.69)
Bauer lasted just 3 2/3 innings while allowing two runs and six hits in a Game 2 loss Wednesday, giving up RBI singles to Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber. The 25-year-old Bauer has never started a game in the majors on three days of rest but he tossed seven scoreless innings in his only career outing at Wrigley Field in 2015. The bullpen will be well-rested behind him and Francona has long-relief options in Danny Salazar or Ryan Merritt if Bauer has another early exit.
Lester gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings in the Game 1 loss but he still owns a 2.60 ERA in 124 2/3 innings in his postseason career. “I don’t think you can really take it any different than any other start, whether you’re tied or whether you’re down or up,” Lester told reporters. “I think if you’re down 3-1 and you’re going in there saying you have to do this, you have to do that to try to stay alive, I think you’ve kind of already been beaten, you know? You’re not worried about the right thing.” Napoli was 0-for-2 with a walk against Lester in Game 1 but is 6-for-17 with two homers and three free passes in his career against the southpaw, including the postseason.
* Indians are 10-2 in their last 12 playoff games.
* Cubs are 9-0 in Lester’s last 9 home starts vs. a team with a winning record.
* Under is 10-1 in Indians’ last 11 overall.
* Under is 20-3-4 in Bauer’s last 27 road starts.
* Over is 7-0 in Cubs’ last 7 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is favoring the home favorite Cubs with their backs against the wall in Game 5 at a rate of 64 percent. Over is picking up 59 percent of the Covers wagers.
MVP ODDS (PER SPORTS INTERACTION):