Indians fail to put Cubs away — but they’re still in good shape

SHARE Indians fail to put Cubs away — but they’re still in good shape

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 30: Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians walks off the field after flying out in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Five of the 2016 World Series at Wrigley Field on October 30, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Indians had a chance to put the Cubs away.

They didn’t get it done.

Disheartened? Absolutely.

“It’s disappointing,’’ right fielder Brandon Guyer said. “Any time you have a chance against a team like that you want to [finish them off].’’

Leading the World Series three games to one and having the Cubs on their heels — fighting to find their swings and muster some offense — the Indians had the champagne and beer on ice in the cozy visitors Cubs clubhouse. It got shipped back to Cleveland, where Game 6 is Tuesday when the Indians will have another chance to win a World Series.

“It just got a little more difficult,’’ first baseman Mike Napoli said.

The Indians had three games to win one and now they have two to win one. The math is simple. And manager Terry Francona still likes his team’s odds.

“We have the good plane again,” Francona said, referring to the spacious charter he raved about when the team flew into Chicago on Thursday. “So we can fly around for a while. I don’t care. Then we’ll show up whatever day is the next day and see if we can beat them.’’

On the plane, however, the Indians probably chewed on the chalky thought of missed opportunities that cost them in Sunday’s 3-2 loss.

Jason Kipnis, a three-run homer hero in Game 4, went 0-for-4, including 0-for-2 with runners on second base. Kipnis struck out looking against Jon Lester in the sixth with Rajai Davis on second, and he fouled out to left fielder Ben Zobrist against Aroldis Chapman with Davis – representing the tying run — on second again.

The Indians also threatened and did not score against Lester in the fifth and against Carl Edwards and Chapman in the seventh. Carlos Santana led off the fifth with a double and got to third on Jose Ramirez’ grounder to short, but Lester struck out Guyer looking and retired Roberto Perez on a grounder to short. In the seventh, Napoli led off with a single and moved to second when Edwards crossed up Contreras, resulting in a passed ball. But Edwards and Chapman worked out of it.

In the eighth, Davis singled and stole second with one out but Kipnis and Francisco Lindor were retired by Chapman.

“We had an opportunity to tie when Rajai got on and stole a base,’’ Napoli said. “That’s what we wanted. We weren’t able to come through.’’

“I actually thought we did a pretty good job,’’ Francona said.

“Sometimes you have to respect what the other team can do, too. Sometimes they beat you. I didn’t think we beat ourselves. They beat us.’’

And they’re still ahead in the series.

“We’re in a good position still,’’ Napoli said. “We’re up 3-2 going home, so we did what we had to do here. In a crazy atmosphere, we won two of three and put ourselves in position. We’re happy to get home and play in front of our fans.’’

The Cubs have this going for them, though: Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks lined up to start.

“They’re a very good team and playing in front of this crowd, they didn’t want their season to end,’’ Guyer said. “We’ve got two chances to end this thing and hopefully we’ll get it done Tuesday.

“It will be electric. The playoff atmosphere has been there, the fans are going to be crazy with us having a chance to clinch at home.’’

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