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World Series, Game 7 analysis: Fall Classic finale sets up heartbreaker, drought-breaker

By
Jack Magruder, The Sports Xchange
Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell reacts after hitting a grand slam home run against the Cleveland Indians during the third inning in game 6 of the World Series at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on November 1, 2016. Russell had 6 RBI's to lead the Cubs' effort. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell reacts after hitting a grand slam home run against the Cleveland Indians during the third inning in game 6 of the World Series at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on November 1, 2016. Russell had 6 RBI's to lead the Cubs' effort. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

CLEVELAND -- A day after dressing as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for Halloween, Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell laid some super hero on the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the World Series.

Russell tied a World Series record with six RBIs in the 9-3 victory Tuesday, and in so doing he guaranteed a broken heart for one of these teams -- the Cubs or Indians -- when the World Series concludes Wednesday night.

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Cleveland has not won a World Series since 1948, a drought that would be considered lengthy if the Cubs were not factored in. Chicago is playing in its first World Series since 1945 and has not won it since 1908.

For one team, to make it all the way to seven games this year and not close it out will be agonizing.

Russell, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo homered and Jake Arrieta went 5 2-3 innings to beat Cleveland for the second time as the Cubs forced a deciding game.

"Anybody who plays this game grows up dreaming of winning a World Series," Bryant said. "We get to play Game 7 tomorrow. That's pretty special."

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Cleveland will start right-hander Corey Kluber, the second time in this series he will start on three days' rest. Kluber became the first pitcher since Cincinnati's Jose Rijo in 1990 to win Games 1 and 4 of the World Series, and he could become the 11th pitcher to win three games in the same Series.

Arizona's Randy Johnson was the last to do it in 2001, with two victories as a starter and one in relief. Mickey Lolich won three games as a starter in 1968, when the Tigers erased a 3-1 deficit to beat St. Louis.

The Cubs will counter with right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who is 1-1 with a 1.31 ERA in four playoff starts. Hendricks did not have his best stuff in a Game 3 start, giving up six hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings, but he did not give up a run in a 1-0 loss. He was 7-6 with a 2.95 ERA in 16 road starts during the regular season.

Managers Terry Francona and Joe Maddon have made creative use of their bullpens in the World Series, and Game 7 could provide another opportunity.

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Because Game 6 was settled early, Cleveland could give its strong back end -- Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen -- another day of rest. Miller, 2-0 with an 0.53 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 17 innings in the postseason, has not pitched in three days. Dexter Folwer's homer in Game 4 is the only run he has allowed.

Taking no chances, Maddon brought closer Aroldis Chapman into Game 6 with two outs and two on in the seventh inning. Chapman got four outs before leaving after walking a batter to open the ninth. His availability might be in question after recording an eight-out save in his longest career outing in Game 5, and Maddon said starters Jon Lester and John Lackey will be available out of the bullpen Wednesday.

"We came out hitting the baseball," Maddon said after Game 6. "We looked more normal. We hit our home runs. Jake was really good."

Russell hit the first grand slam in a World Series since South Sider Paul Konerko hit one for the White Sox against Houston in 2005, and the Cubs had seven earned runs (some more so than others) by the third inning.

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Russell's two-run double came on a ball that fell because of a miscommunication between Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Paquin in a three-run first inning. He hit a grand slam on the third pitch he saw from Cleveland reliever Dan Otero in the third.

After that, the only suspense was how long Arrieta's no-hit bid would last. Arrieta did not allow a hit until one out in the sixth inning of a 5-1 victory in Game 2. Jason Kipnis doubled to open the fourth and scored, and his homer in the fifth made it 7-2.

"Tonight was a tough night," Francona said. "It will be exciting to come to the ballpark tomorrow. Shoot, I might just wear my uniform home. I might get ice cream on it, though, so I better not."

One team will more than happy when the champagne is spilled Wednesday.

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