CLEVELAND – Jake Arrieta made a brief run at a no-hitter and ended another 71-year pause between celebrations for the Chicago Cubs and their faithful fans.
Not only are they back in the World Series, they’ve won there again.
One more drought quenched, one more to go.
Arrieta carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, Kyle Schwarber drove in two runs and the Cubs brushed off a shutout to even the Series with their first Fall Classic win in more than seven decades, 5-1 over the Cleveland Indians in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Arrieta, who pitched a no-hitter earlier this season, briefly invoked Don Larsen’s name by flirting with one deep in October before the Indians touched him for two hits and a run. However, the right-hander helped give Chicago just what it needed — a split at Progressive Field — before the Cubbies return to their Wrigley Field den for the next three games starting Friday night.
“It’s always crazy good,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said when asked how he expected things to be on the corner of Clark and Addison for Game 3. “But I’d have to imagine a little bit more than that, especially coming back at 1-1. I think the folks will be jacked up about the win tonight.
“It’s the finest venue there is in professional sports and maybe in all of sports.”
The Cubs hadn’t won in the Series since beating Detroit 8-7 in 1945 to force a decisive Game 7, and after their latest win, hundreds of Chicago fans gathered in the pouring rain in the rows behind their first-base dugout, where they danced and sang. A few waved the familiar white and blue “W” flags.
They hope to do it three more times.
The big-swinging Schwarber, who made it back for Chicago’s long-awaited Series return after missing six months with an injured left knee, hit an RBI single in the third off Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer and had another in the Cubs’ three-run fifth — highlighted by Ben Zobrist’s run-scoring triple.
In Game 1, Schwarber doubled and walked.
“No, it’s not that easy, first off. Baseball’s a crazy game,” he said.
Even the presence of star LeBron James and the NBA champion Cavaliers, sporting their new rings, couldn’t stop the Indians from losing for the first time in six home games this postseason.
And Cleveland manager Terry Francona’s magical touch in October finally fizzled as he dropped to 9-1 in Series games.
“We gave up nine hits, eight walks, two errors, and we only gave up five runs,” Francona said. “For us to win, we generally need to play a clean game, and we didn’t do that.”
With rain in the forecast, Major League Baseball moved the first pitch up an hour in hopes of avoiding delays or a postponement.
It turned out to be a good call as the game went on without a hitch and ended after more than four hours as light rain was beginning to fall.
Arrieta and the Cubs provided the only storm.
The bearded 30-year-old coasted through five innings without allowing a hit, and his no-hit bid was the longest in a Series game since Jerry Koosman of the New York Mets tossed six no-hit innings in 1969.
For a brief period, Arrieta looked as if he might challenge Larsen’s gem — a perfect game — in 1956 before Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, a die-hard Cubs fan as a kid, doubled with one out in the sixth .
Arrieta has two career no-hitters, in fact, including the only one in the majors this year.
“I knew I hadn’t given up a hit all the way to the sixth,” Arrieta said. “That’s really not the focus in a game like this. Whether they get a hit or not really doesn’t affect the way you continue to approach that lineup, especially with a five-run lead.”
Kipnis was impressed.
“We didn’t get much going,” he said. “You have to tip your hat to Arrieta. He was awesome.”
Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery replaced Arrieta and worked two scoreless innings before Aroldis Chapman came in and unleashed his 103 mph heat while getting the last four outs in his Series debut.
The teams will have an off day before the series resumes with Game 3 at Wrigley, which will host its first Series game since 1945, when tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave with his pet goat, Murphy, and a curse was born.
Josh Tomlin will start for the Indians, who will lose the designated hitter in the NL ballpark, against Kyle Hendricks.
Schwarber might also wind up on the bench after two days as the DH. Maddon loves the way he’s swinging but isn’t sure he’s ready to play in the outfield.
“That’s something I’m waiting to hear from our guys, from our medical side, because obviously he looks good,” he said. “He looks good at the plate. Running the bases he looks pretty good so far.”
And the Cubs finally do, too, as they head home.
Unlike his start in Toronto on Oct. 17, when his stitched cut opened up and Bauer was forced to make a bloody departure in the first inning, his finger held up fine.
The Cubs, though, put a few nicks in him in 3 2/3 innings.
“I just wasn’t sharp for whatever reason,” Bauer said.
The drone accident has brought attention to the quirky Bauer, and one Chicago fan tried to rattle the right-hander by sending a smaller version of the remote-controlled, flying object that cut him.
Bauer posted a photo of it on Twitter, saying “I see the @Cubs fans love me! How nice of them to send me a gift!”
Francona’s nine-game winning streak was the third-longest in Series history, trailing Joe Torre (14) and Joe McCarthy (10). … The Cubs are 7-1 this postseason when scoring first. … The teams combined for a Series record-tying three wild pitches. … Indians RHP Danny Salazar made his first postseason appearance since starting the 2013 AL wild-card game. … This is the 58th time the Series has been tied 1-1. The Game 2 winner has won the title 29 times.
Looking ahead, Francona has already decided he’ll bring Corey Kluber back on short rest for Game 4. It wasn’t much of a decision, really, after the right-hander confounded the Cubs in Game 1, painting the corners for six-plus innings.
Cubs: Hendricks is coming off his brilliant performance in Game 6 of the NLCS when he pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings as the Cubs clinched their first pennant in 71 years. The right-hander led the majors with a 2.13 ERA.
Indians: It will be an emotional night for Tomlin, who will pitch on 12 days’ rest with his ailing father, Jerry, in attendance. The elder Tomlin became stricken with a spinal condition in August, when the right-hander was struggling on the mound.