This piece, written by Baseball Prospectus’s Trevor Strunk, forms part of the main site’s comprehensive coverage of the postseason, “Playoff Prospectus”.
In any baseball game that ends with a score of 9-3, especially any World Series game that ends with a score of 9-3, the central question any casual spectator is inevitably going to have is “so when did it turn from a close call into a laugher?” This question, more than any other, defines the blowout win or loss, since it gives an idea of how truly one-sided the game was. Did the winning team jump out to a 9-0 lead in the first and never look back? Or was this a 1-1 game until the eighth inning when some bullpen mismanagement turned a leftover smoldering campfire into Chernobyl?
The character of the blowout game, almost moreso than the close game or the average win or loss, is deeply determined by its sequence of events, and one can never quite get away from talking about a blowout win or loss without postulating when, precisely, that win or loss went from a presumed outcome to an academic assumption. Fortunately for those of us lucky enough to be writing about the World Series from the East Coast, the defining moment for Game 6 happened fairly early–and fairly definitively–when Addison Russell, up with the bases loaded, knocked a 2-0 Dan Otero curveball into the seats.
What was a 3-0 nail-biter suddenly became a 7-0 cakewalk for the Cubs, and while Cleveland did their best to claw back into the game, it really was all over but for the shouting. And so when you read about this game today, you’re going to be reading a lot about Russell’s home run. Expect people, especially sportswriters who don’t have to write about Cleveland often, to have a bunch of lines like this: “The Fumble. The Drive. The … Grand Slam?” It’s a perfectly written narrative moment, and a lovely little archetype of the series’ dramatic turn towards a “win or go home” Game 7.
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Lead photo courtesy Charles LeClair—USA Today Sports