CLEVELAND – One night after making history just by showing up, the Cubs flirted Wednesday night with the kind of World Series history that only the Yankees have made.
They settled for a 5-1 victory over the Indians in Game 2 at Progressive Field, stealing the home-field advantage as the series shifts to Wrigley Field for Game 3 on Friday.
Shut out in Tuesday’s opener, the Cubs peppered Indians starter Trevor Bauer and the Cleveland bullpen with nine hits and eight walks, taking a lead three batters into the game and never looking back.
But not even the growing legend of Kyle Schwarber could overshadow Cubs starter Jake Arrieta’s run at the second no-hitter in World Series history.
“Yeah, I knew that I hadn’t given up a hit all the way to the sixth,” Arrieta said. “That’s really not the focus in a game like this. I wanted to stay aggressive.”
Arrieta, who pitched two no-hitters in the last 14 months, chased Don Larsen into the sixth inning before Glenbrook North’s Jason Kipnis broke up the bid with a one-out double to center.
Larsen’s 1956 perfect game for the Yankees remains the only no-hitter in the World Series.
“He did what he needed to do,” said Kris Bryant, who singled and scored on Anthony Rizzo’s ensuing double for the quick first-inning run. “It was a much-needed game for him, and we all told him that’s what we needed, and he provided it for us.
“It kind of felt like a must-win for us. You don’t want to go home down two games.”
Arrieta didn’t last long after the hit. After Kipnis took second on a grounder, he scored on a wild pitch. When Mike Napoli followed with a single to left, manager Joe Maddon lifted Arrieta in favor of lefty Mike Montgomery – who pitched two scoreless innings to get the ball to closer Aroldis Chapman.
As the Cubs head home for three games, the biggest question facing Maddon and the front office is how to get Schwarber involved.
The young lefty slugger just two games removed from 6½ months on the disabled list with a knee injury has reached base five times in nine plate appearances as the Cubs’ designated hitter.
“They’re going to make a movie out of him,” Bryant said.
General manager Jed Hoyer said he expects Schwarber to be evaluated by doctors Thursday.
Medically cleared a week ago Monday to bat and run the bases, Schwarber has not been cleared to play in the field.
“Obviously, he looks good,” Maddon said. “But that’s something I’m waiting to hear from our medical side.”
Said Schwarber: “We’ll see where it goes. Nothing’s set in stone.”
Teammates across the clubhouse said they wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the outfield for the start of Friday’s game – a scene that figures to only heighten what might already be the most emotionally charged game in Wrigley Field history.
“It’s going to be insane,” Rizzo said. “It’s going to be a lot of emotions for a lot of people.
“It’s a race to three now. We’ve got three games at home. We feel good about Friday night at Wrigley Field, Chicago, first World Series in 71 years. We’re going to like the energy.”
And two games into this series, on this stage, even the young, first-time players seem to have found their emotional footing as it shifts to a best-of-five.
“I felt like even today before the game, we were relaxed, having a good time, like we always do,” Rizzo said.
“We’ve done a good job not letting the moment get to us,” said veteran Ben Zobrist, who’s playing in his third World Series, winning one last year with the Royals.
The Cubs started a World Series-record six players under the age of 25.
“They’re just scratching the surface of how good they can be, Maddon said.