CLEVELAND • With ace pitcher Corey Kluber on the mound and three rested top relievers in waiting, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona is confident his team can defeat the Chicago Cubs this morning (Singapore time) to win the World Series.
The Cubs, trying to win their first title since 1908 to end the United States' longest sports title drought, ripped hosts Cleveland 9-3 on Tuesday to level the best-of-seven Major League Baseball final at 3-3 and force a winner-take-all showdown.
"Was a tough night," Francona said. "You can get philosophical or whatever. What it comes down to is, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's a really important game and we'll be really excited to play."
Only five teams have done what the Chicago Cubs will be attempting to do today - recover from a 1-3 deficit to win Game 7 of the World Series.
Kluber, a right-hander, went 18-9 this season and is 4-1 in the playoffs. He won Games 1 and 4 of the World Series, the latter on short rest, and will pitch on short rest again in the finale with the Indians seeking their first crown since 1948.
"That's a good feeling," Francona said of having Kluber on the mound. "It's Game 7. It will be exciting. It will be an honour to even be a part of it and we're going to give it everything we have. I can't imagine a better group of guys to go through something like this with. I'm looking forward to it already."
One reason is that he also has rested relief pitchers Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen and Andrew Miller, the lone left-hander in the group.
Francona was pleased he could hold back all three top relievers and force the Cubs to use Cuban ace closer Aroldis Chapman for the second game in a row.
"You always want to win the game but the next best thing, and we talked about this before we even started, was try and make them use pitching even in a loss," Francona said. "So we hung around long enough, at least Chapman had to pitch."
Now there is only one goal left for the Cubs. They could become the first team since 1985 to rally from a 1-3 deficit to win the title, the first since 1979 to do so by winning the last two games on the road.
"Anybody who plays this game grows up dreaming of winning a World Series," Cubs' third baseman and outfielder Kris Bryant said. "We get to play Game 7. That's pretty special. It's nice to build off these last two games with momentum. The offence is pretty special and our pitching was unbelievable."
Scoring early enabled the Cubs to seize command from the start, something they failed to do in their Series defeats.
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