Don’t count ’em out yet.
The Chicago Cubs held on just barely in Game 5, edging the Indians at Wrigley Field 3-2 to send the World Series back to Cleveland. Many counted the Cubs out the moment they went down 3-1 in the series, but as the city of Cleveland knows well, a 3-1 series lead is nothing insurmountable.
Here are three key reasons why a Cubs comeback is still in the cards:
Joe Maddon and company have to feel pretty positive about who’s on the mound for Games 6 and 7. The Cubs will have Jake Arrieta, last year’s National League Cy Young winner, starting Game 6 in a favorable matchup against Josh Tomlin, and while Arrieta has been shaky in the postseason – 3-2 in six career playoff starts with a 3.72 ERA – there aren’t many other arms Cubs fans would trust in a game of survival. One name they might, however, is Kyle Hendricks, who will start Game 7. The 26-year-old’s 2.13 ERA ranked first in MLB in the regular season, and if the Cubs can get to Game 7, the Indians will likely roll with ace Corey Kluber on short rest yet again, giving Chicago a third look at “Klubot” in the series.
Full games with Schwarber
Thanks to the American League, Kyle Schwarber will no longer be limited to only pinch-hit appearances. Due to his recuperating knee, doctors ruled it was too risky for Schwarber to play the field at Wrigley under NL rules, and Chicago could have used the slugger’s hot bat for more than just a single plate appearance between Games 3 and 4. Now, the 23-year-old will get to slot in at the designated hitter spot again, where he impressed in Games 1 and 2, slashing .429/.556/.571 with two RBIs in seven at-bats.
Home away from home
Chicago won’t be able to win its first World Series in 108 years at Wrigley Field, but it might not matter. The Cubs have been nearly just as impressive on the road this season, with their 46 wins equaling the Boston Red Sox for the most away from home in the regular season. Though Cleveland is a strong 5-1 at home in the postseason so far, the Cubs bats have fared much better on the road, recording a .679 OPS and 34 runs away from home in the playoffs as opposed to only a .608 OPS and 24 runs at Wrigley.