CLEVELAND -- For all the drama of this World Series, the historical import, the tortured-for-decades fanbases, the seemingly endless fountain of young talent on both teams, it is worth nothing that, two games in, the games themselves have not been that scintillating so far.
The first contest was a lovely night for Cleveland to put on its fancy clothes and party, but the game was never particularly in much doubt. But Wednesday night's game was particularly dreary: a long, drawn-out, freezing cold and (eventually) wet affair that went beyond its desired expiration date. There wasn't much to cheer about from the home crowd all night, and it was cold and damp and miserable. It was one of those nights that no one left early because they paid so much for tickets … and pretty much only for that reason.
As meandering as the first two games might have been, though, we are set up for quite the series swing as we head to Chicago. The games might not have been riveting, but they have set up what is already looking like what might be a classic series. You might not use these two games as Exhibits A and B of your Case For Baseball's Awesomeness, but you can't say we haven't learned a ton heading into Game 3. Here's what we know after two games.
1. So, Kyle Schwarber seems fine! Is this going to be the new trick now? Just get yourself hurt in the season's opening week, spend the summer working out (and apparently eating healthily!) and watching your team put up one of the best records on the last 25 years and then show up to be the lineup's best hitter, like it was nothing? Schwarber didn't face anything better than Arizona Fall League pitching for six months, and I guess he didn't need to: He's 3-for-7 in this series so far, with two RBIs and two walks. And he just missed a homer off Corey Kluber in Game 1. The only problem for Schwarber is that he's not cleared to play the field, which he'll have to do to get anything more than a token pinch-hitting appearance in Games 3 through 5. (Joe Maddon wouldn't dare push him to play the field … would he?) What Schwarber is doing this series is unprecedented. It's supposed to be a lot harder than this.
2. The Cubs can't hit Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Everyone else, though? Look out. As baseball writer Joe Sheehan pointed out in his newsletter, coming into Game 2, "the Indians have used just three pitchers for 58 percent of their postseason innings at an ERA of 0.39." Pretty handy! It's no wonder that Terry Francona announced that Kluber would be his Game 4 starter (and, thus, his theoretical Game 7 starter, if it went that far). All three pitchers got Game 2 off, though, and it showed. Trevor Bauer was lucky to only give up two runs, and Zach McAllister and Bryan Shaw allowed the Cubs to slowly but efficiently grind out at-bats and extend their lead. Dan Otero and Mike Clevinger had their moments, but it's not like Game 3 starter Josh Tomlin scares the Cubs hitters much. The key for Francona might be Danny Salazar, who threw a somewhat wild but still electric sixth inning in Game 2. If he can become another trusted bullpen arm, he can deploy him to fill in the gaps when Kluber, Miller and Allen aren't in. But right now, those are the only troops he has to deploy.
3. The Indians' studs aren't hitting. Jason Kipnis, perhaps still suffering from the ankle he injured in the celebration after the American League Championship Series, is 1-for-9. Carlos Santana is 0-for-6. Lonnie Chisenhall is 1-for-6. Mike Napoli got hits in this last two at-bats Wednesday but was hitless before that. The Indians can talk about their pitching all they want, but they never looked particularly threatening in Game 2; Game 1 stars Francisco Lindor, Roberto Perez and Jose Ramirez were all quiet on Wednesday. This would be a great time for Santana, in particular, to start knocking the ball around. One wonders if Francona will keep him in the leadoff spot or move him down to try to get some more power in the middle of the order. Of course, there might have been a reason they weren't hitting in Game 2 …
4. Jake Arrieta might be back. Uh-oh. Arrieta, as odd as it might seem, has sort of been the weak link in the Cubs rotation for the last month. But his two-seam fastball, in that freezing cold, was deadly Wednesday, and he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. If Arrieta has found his 2015 self, it's tough to see how the Indians win this series. The Cubs certainly won't be the least bit worried to see him back out at Progressive Field for a Game 6, if the Series returns there.
5. Jason Heyward isn't going anywhere. The struggles of Heyward, who made more money than Mike Trout this year and will do so again next year, pushed him to the bench for Games 1 and 2. He and Maddon even had a closed-door meeting before this series. He came in as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning of Game 2, and he hit the ball hard once, flying to center in the seventh before striking out in the ninth. None of the Cubs' other right-field options -- Chris Coghlan, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora Jr. -- have any hits this series either, and you wonder, with Kyle Hendricks pitching in Game 3, if Maddon will give Heyward his first start of the Series. Everything has gone right this postseason for the Cubs other than Heyward. They desperately want to get him going.
6. Scoring first has never felt more important. As The Ringer's Ben Lindbergh pointed out, the Indians play at a 136-win pace when they score first. All Francona wants to do is turn the game into a contest of bullpens. But when that doesn't happen, you can almost feel the air go out of the whole Cleveland gameplan balloon. When the Cubs scored in the first, and then again in the third, and then added three more in the fifth on Wednesday, the game felt like it was over regardless of what Arrieta was doing. The Indians do not have the sort of dynamic offense that overcomes steep deficits, but they do have the dynamic bullpen that doesn't lose a lead. Don't get to Wrigley late for Game 3: The game might be decided before you've made it out of the concessions line.
7. Chicago fans can't take over Progressive Field ... but it's close. The Indians fans certainly showed up large for both games in the series, but have no doubt: The Cubs fans made their presence felt ... and heard. Barring an unlikely three-game sweep by either team, this series is coming back to Progressive Field, and you've heard "Let's Go Cubs" chants a lot these last two games, even during that rough Game 1. Cubs Nation is everywhere you look, and if it gets to a Game 6 or 7 back in Cleveland, it's going to get crazy. The roar you heard when Roberto Perez grounded out off Aroldis Chapman to end the game was unmistakable: Even in Cleveland, Cubs fans are making a ton of noise.
8. The Indians mascot/symbol business is not a good look on this stage. Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he wants to talk to the Indians about Chief Wahoo in the offseason. Clevelanders may adore their "mascot," but yikes.
9. Wrigley's gonna be beautiful. Somehow, Progressive Field avoided the predicted rainstorm that was supposed to hit on Wednesday. (Just wait, here it comes.) Luckily, the weather's supposed to be lovely, and unseasonable warm-ish (for Chicago), all weekend. This is the first Wrigley Field World Series game in 71 years. We'll all be seeing the place at its best.
10. You're not getting much sleep over the next week. Wednesday was a four-plus-hour nine-inning contest, thanks to the plethora of bullpen moves, the patient Cubs hitters and a bunch of pokey, pokey pitchers. Don't expect any of that to speed up as the series gets tighter. This looks like it's going to be a deep series, which means the stress and exhaustion of this historic World Series is going to take a serious toll, every night. And the one night you have off? It's Halloween. You should do your best to nap in the break room at every opportunity the next two days, and sleep in as late as you can this weekend. You're going to need all the rest you can get. Strap in. We're just getting started here.
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