Game 5. Tonight from C-town. And for the second straight year, the Tribe — a team that’s looked like an absolute steamroller — had a bully on the ropes. And for the second straight year, the Bully has picked themselves up off the mat, punched back, and squared things up. We all know how last year ended, the Cubs turning around a 3-1 deficit to kill the curse. Now, after jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Tribe is back home for a Game 5 that nobody wanted, needing a win against a Yankees team that wasn’t expected to be here, with nothing to lose.
This has been an absolutely crazy series. Like 48 hours ago, New Yorkers were talking about Joe Girardi getting fired. Now he’s got a chance to knock off the hottest team in baseball, who up until Games 3 and 4 hadn’t lost two straight since mid-August, and who finished the regular season winning a ridiculous 33 of 37.
That’s how fast a series can flip. And that’s how quickly the ghosts of Cleveland past can pop up — 69 straight years of futility, the longest World Series drought in baseball. And the ugly reality that the Tribe have lost five-straight series clinching games and 16 of its last 19 since Mike Hargrove got axed after winning 97 games in 1999.
But know this: Terry Francona isn’t Mike Hargrove. And Corey Kluber ain’t Dave Burba. And when Tito made the decision to start Trevor Bauer in Game 1 instead of Kluber, he set himself up for the exact scenario he finds himself in tonight: “I think we feel real comfortable about how we went about everything. And we wanted Kluber if we got to this game, and we got to this game…I’m comfortable with where we are.”
Ultimately, that’s why I think Cleveland gets it done tonight. Because Kluber’s the best right-hander in baseball. And even if he gave up 6 runs in Game 2, he gave up 6 runs in the entire month of September before that, and has pitched in games like this and gotten it done before. I’m pushing everything I have to the center of the table and going all in on Kluber. That’s a different cat, and the Indians are a different team at home. No, it shouldn’t have come to this Indians fan. But it has. And I’m here to tell you, it’s going to be all right. Kluber, that pen and Tito have this. They’re going to get it done. You might still get your hearts ripped out of your chest sometime in the next few weeks, but it’s not going to be tonight.
Relax, C-Town. You’re going to be just fine.