CLEVELAND – The Cubs offense fired nothing but blanks against Cleveland Indians pitching in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night.
If only more Cubs hitters had followed the lead of Ben Zobrist, who went three-for-four against an Indians pitching staff that has produced four shutouts in nine playoff games.
“How about Zobrist’s great night,’’ manager Joe Maddon said, accentuating the positive.
Zobrist had almost half of the Cubs’ seven hits, and each one of them set up as meaningful knocks. He led off the second inning with a double against Corey Kluber that bounced past center fielder Rajai Davis to the wall, but Kluber struck out Kyle Schwarber, Javy Baez and Chris Coghlan in order.
Zobrist led off the seventh with a single to left, the last hitter to face Kluber as Indians manager Terry Francona went to left-hander Andrew Miller to face Kyle Schwarber. The Cubs would load the bases with nobody out but Miller pitched out of that jam.
Zobrist also singled in the eighth to bring Schwarber up as the tying run.
“He’s such a calming influence because he doesn’t get excited,’’ Maddon said. “You watch his at-bats, they are absolutely the same all the time, and I think you look at the ascension of a [Javy] Baez as an example or Addison [Russell], I know they’re watching him. They watch how he’s never in trouble at the plate. Two strikes don’t bother him. He accepts his walks.
“I anticipate over the next couple years you’ll see our young guys working those same kind of at-bats.’’
Russell went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. If one of the NLCS hitting heroes gained anything Tuesday, it was getting an eye-full of Zobrist.
“Ben had very solid at-bats,’’ Russell said. “He didn’t go outside his approach. Stayed within himself and didn’t go out of his swing. He did great tonight.’’