What to watch for tonight in Game 7 of the World Series at Cleveland:
The Chicago Cubs have the longest championship drought in baseball, dating to 1908. The Indians own the second-longest gap, going back to 1948.
Both teams are 0-2 in Game 7s. Chicago lost the 1945 World Series to Detroit and the 2003 NLCS to the Marlins; the Indians dropped the 1997 World Series to the Marlins and the 2007 ALCS to Boston.
This is the third time in six years the World Series has gone the distance, most recently when the Giants beat the Royals in 2014. Home teams are 18-19 all-time in decisive Game 7s.
Indians ace Corey Kluber vs. major league ERA leader Kyle Hendricks.
Kluber could become the first pitcher to win three starts in a World Series since 1968, when Mickey Lolich did it for Detroit. The Cleveland righty also is the top hitter so far — he’s batting .500, albeit 1 for 2.
Kluber has given up one run in 12 innings against the Cubs while fanning 15, and is 4-1 with a 0.89 ERA this postseason. The 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner starts on short rest for the second time in a row.
Hendricks didn’t get a decision in his Game 3 start, when he was pulled in the fifth inning without allowing a run. He was 16-8 with a 2.13 ERA this season.
This could cause chaos. The forecast as of early Wednesday morning called for 70 degrees and fairly clear skies at Progressive Field for the first pitch at 8 p.m. EDT. But by 11 p.m., there’s a good chance of rain, and it’s supposed to keep coming down until late morning. The first six games have taken an average of 3 hours, 34 minutes. Might make for a wet, wild finish.
Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman has thrown 62 pitches in three days. Only three of his 20 fastballs Tuesday reached 100 mph on the radar gun, a down night for him. He also grimaced and came up limping a bit after covering first base. If his right knee or foot was hurting, he didn’t sound concerned.
“Nothing bad,” he said in Spanish. “No issues at all.”
Cleveland relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are well rested. After a travel day Monday, they didn’t work Tuesday night in a 9-3 loss. Chances are, manager Terry Francona won’t wait long to call in his daunting duo.
A lot of guys in play here. Corey Kluber would be an obvious choice if he dominates again, but what if he’s pulled early in a no-decision and Cleveland wins? Andrew Miller has been nearly unhittable, Cody Allen hasn’t given up a run, and flashy shortstop Francisco Lindor has starred with the bat and glove.
Jake Arrieta has won twice for the Cubs and Aroldis Chapman has ruled in relief. Ben Zobrist leads all regulars with nine hits and a .391 batting average, Anthony Rizzo is hitting .364, Addison Russell has eight RBIs and Kris Bryant has hit two timely home runs.
Someone is likely to stamp their ticket to the Hall of Fame with a win tonight. It could be Indians manager Terry Francona, who guided the Red Sox to two titles and helped them end their 86-year championship drought. Or it could be Cubs architect Theo Epstein, who built that Boston team in 2004.