This piece, written by Baseball Prospectus’s Mauricio Rubio, forms part of the main site’s comprehensive coverage of the postseason, “Playoff Prospectus”.
Championship seasons are filled with unlikely heroes coming up in big spots. Cleveland are not champions yet, but should they seal the deal they certainly have their unlikely hero. With runners at the corners in the seventh, Coco Crisp flared a meek single out to right field, scoring Michael Martinez before Rajai Davis decided to commit baserunner suicide by trying to advance to third on a ball hit right in front of Jorge Soler.
The Crisp single was a big moment and it ended up being the key to Cleveland’s win, but it still managed to get out-shined by (Hawk Harrelson voice) the worst baserunning read I’ve seen in all my years watching playoff baseball.
Cleveland bullpen brings the ruckus
The Cubs were lining Andrew Miller up in Game 1, but they ultimately came up empty. In Game 3, Andrew Miller shut the whole thing down, striking out Dexter Fowler, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo on sliders.
Bryan Shaw tossed an effective 1.2 innings before Cody Allen came in and shut the door, giving Cleveland a 2-1 series lead. Cody Allen struck out Javier Báez on a beautiful sequence to end the game as well, getting Báez to extend the zone down and away with a slider before blowing him up with a high and tight heater.
Josh Tomlin protects ya neck
Tomlin posted a solid, gutty performance against the Cubs in Game 3. He went 4.2 innings and only gave up two hits by working primarily with his sinker/cutter/curveball combination. Tomlin’s curve was effective in changing the eye levels of a few Cubs hitters, which opened up the upper portions of the strike zone. It certainly wasn’t dominant, but Tomlin pitched well.
Kyle Hendricks and the mystery of chessboxin’
Kyle Hendricks posted a highly productive 2016 season as a young bull pitching like an old geezer; working with a fastball that touches 90 mph from the right side, changing speeds, executing scouting reports, and maintaining strong command throughout the season. On this night, however, the command was off and his stuff wasn’t sharp. Hendricks got some favorable calls low in the zone early in the game and he took to the zone quickly, pounding the lower half, which kept the ball in the ballpark.
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Lead photo courtesy Tommy Gilligan—USA Today Sports.