CHICAGO — Kyle Schwarber will not play in the field in Wrigley Field. Kyle Hendricks will, however, and that may provide a bigger impediment for Cleveland when the World Series shifts to Chicago for Game 3 Friday after the teams split the first two games at Progressive Field.
Cy Young Award candidate Hendricks was 9-2 with a 1.32 ERA in 15 home games this season, including 14 starts, and he is 2-0 in three playoff starts as the Cubs seek their first World Series title since 1908.
The only thing that got in the way of a possible third postseason victory was an Angel Pagan line drive that struck Hendricks’ right forearm in the fourth inning of NLDS Game 2. Hendricks was forced to leave leading 4-2, and the Cubs won 5-2.
Hendricks will oppose Cleveland right-hander Josh Tomlin, who was 13-9 in the regular season and has beaten Boston and Toronto in his two playoff starts while allowing three runs in 10 2/3 innings. He has never faced the Cubs.
“I think the pitchers feel as though they’re really not far from home plate,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of what might play into Hendricks’ home success.
“There’s times different ballparks you feel like the mound is far away, and sometimes it feels like it’s right on top of you. Apparently the wind may be blowing out tomorrow night, but for the most part this year it’s not. It’s a really big ballpark, in spite of what the numbers say on the wall. And we have a very good defense. And a big part of it is that he has elicited weaker contact all year based on the variety of pitches he has.”
Corey Kluber, scheduled to start Game 4 on Saturday, shut the Cubs down in Game 1 with help from Andrew Miller and Roberto Perez, who had two homers.
The Cubs tied the series behind Jake Arrieta in Game 2, when 3-4-5 hitters Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Schwarber combined to go 5-for-11 with four walks, four runs and four RBIs.
Schwarber was 3-for-7 with two walks while serving as the DH in Cleveland, when he became the first player in major league history to have his first hits of a sesaon in the World Series, but he was not cleared to play the field because of the severity of his injury. That will keep him out of the starting lineup Friday.
He missed 6 1/2 months after suffering torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in an outfield collision April 7, the Cubs’ third game of the season. He made eight plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League before being activated for the World Series.
“The doctors were very convicted that there’s just too much risk in playing the outfield because of the … instantaneous reactions, the need to cut in the outfield, the dynamic, athletic movements that are unanticipated in the outfield,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said. “Your instinct in reacting to balls that just aren’t the case when you’re running the bases.”
Schwarber will be used as a pinch-hitter and could DH again in possible Games 6-7 in Cleveland. To a man, the Cubs were more than impressed but not surprised at Schwarber’s pitch recognition and timing after such a long layoff.
“It’s incredibly difficult,” Zobrist said. “I’ll say this. Sometimes when I show up for spring training and see at-bats for the first time, it feels like every pitch is 115 miles an hour. For him to be able to make an adjustment that quick out in the Arizona Fall League and take aggressive hacks and get big hits … I don’t know that there is anybody else in the league that can do that.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras will start rest of the series except in games Jon Lester pitches, Maddon said. David Ross is Lester’s personal catcher. The Cubs took a dramatic step by benching slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in the first two games of the series, with Chris Coghlan and Jorge Soler starting in right field.
While Schwarber will be out, Cleveland is considering starting nominal DH Carlos Santana in left field in Game 3, manager Terry Francona said. Cleveland platooned Brandon Guyer and Coco Crisp in left field in the first two games. Santana was 0-for-6 with two walks in Games 1-2, but he had 34 homers and 87 RBIs in the regular season.
“It’s no big secret, we’re trying to balance scoring more runs than them,” Francona said. “He’s a big part of our offense.”
By Jack Magruder