Corey Kluber, Indians blank Cubs in World Series opener
CLEVELAND — Corey Kluber got the Cleveland Indians off to a striking start and Roberto Perez put away Chicago in the Cubs’ first World Series game since 1945.
Kluber dominated into the seventh inning, Perez homered twice and the Indians beat the Cubs 6-0 in the opener Tuesday night. AL Championship Series MVP Andrew Miller escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh and got out of trouble in the eighth, preserving a three-run lead.
“It’s almost like you have that extra level of intensity,” said Kluber, who became the first Series pitcher to strike out eight batters in the first three innings.
In a matchup between the teams with baseball’s longest championship droughts, the Indians scored twice in the first off October ace Jon Lester.
Perez drove in four runs with a fourth-inning solo shot and a three-run drive in the eighth against Hector Rondon, becoming the first Cleveland player and the only No. 9 batter to homer twice in a Series game.
“I’ve come a long ways,” said Perez, who has three home runs in 27 at-bats during the postseason after hitting three in 153 during the regular season.
Francisco Lindor added three hits as the Indians improved to 8-1 this postseason. Cleveland manager Terry Francona is 9-0 in the Series, including sweeps by his Boston teams in 2004 and ’07.
The Game 1 winner has taken the title in the last six Series and 17 of 19.
“I have no concerns,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s the first game. I’m fine, we’re fine.”
Trevor Bauer, trying to come back from a sliced pinkie caused by a freak drone accident, starts Game 2 for the Indians on Wednesday night against Jake Arrieta. Because the forecast called for an increased chance of rain later in the evening, Major League Baseball took the extraordinary step of moving up the first pitch by an hour to 7:08 p.m.
Kluber painted the outside corner, and 24 of his 59 strikes were called by plate umpire Larry Vanover. Twelve batters were caught looking, including seven Cubs.
“I think his ball was moving too much today,” said Perez, Cleveland’s catcher. “We got guys off balance the whole night.”
Kluber combined with Miller and Cody Allen to fan 15, and Chicago went 2 for 15 with 10 strikeouts with runners on base.
With the Indians hoping for their first title since 1948 and the Cubs seeking their first since 1908, Lester stumbled in the opening inning.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs off Lester, who had been 3-0 with an 0.43 ERA in three Series starts. Jose Ramirez had a run-scoring swinging bunt single and Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch. Perez connected in the fourth for a 3-0 lead.
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