Certain fan bases are more susceptible to overreacting after a loss, and the Chicago Cubs’ fan base is one of them. That’s what 108 years of misery will do to you.
But after Chicago’s 6-0 loss in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, Cubs fans aren’t panicking – at least not yet.
“I don’t really get that sense yet,” CSN Cubs studio analyst Todd Hollandsworth said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Maybe that’s because of the NLCS and what happened there. There was a moment in the NLCS where the Cubs weren’t hitting and there were being shut out and panic was starting to sit in a little bit. It almost feels like lesson learned. They don’t like to lose, trust me. They don’t take any loss well. It’s not received well. The complaining and the finger-pointing will start, but I haven’t really come across this overwhelming sense of doom and gloom yet. Now if tonight happens and doesn’t go their way, that will definitely be built into it because it guarantees that you’re coming back to Cleveland. It guarantees that there’s some despair, and I’m guessing the fan base will be complaining about the hitting if, in fact, they do lose Game 2 tonight. It can happen.”
Corey Kluber was masterful in Game 1, striking out nine Cubs in six shutout innings. Of course, if the Indians want to win this series, winning Tuesday was a necessity.
“I think most of us believe (that) last night was a must-win for the Indians,” Hollandsworth said. “You got Corey Kluber on the mound, and the idea really still remains that they can’t lose a Kluber start. If they lose a Kluber start, they’re really vulnerable. I think Terry Francona tap-danced around that line a little bit. I was really surprised that Kluber came out after 88 pitches, as dominant as he was, because of the exposure to Andrew Miller. I feel like that might be an advantage (for the Cubs later in the series). We’ll see where it goes. I know he ended up pithing two shutout innings, but he walks two guys, gives up a couple hits and goes 46 pitches last night. (I wonder if) that’ll help the Cubs later down the line.”
Miller loaded the bases with no outs in seventh inning but somehow escaped unscathed. If he loads the bases again in this series, don’t expect the same result.
“When (the Cubs) go up against pitchers they haven’t seen before, they don’t seem to show well the first time,” Hollandsowrth said. “They show well the second time. I’ll even use the NLCS as an example. Two-hit shutout by Clayton Kershaw in Game 2, but they put a little bit of a whooping on him in Game 6. It’s who they are. It’s their identity.”
So is taking pitches. That approach didn’t work well against Kluber, but it could work wonders against Trevor Bauer, who will be making his first appearance since Game 3 of the ALCS. Bauer lasted just 21 pitches and two-thirds of an inning that day, this after blood began leaking from his pinky finger following a drone injury he suffered days earlier.
Hollandsowrth said the Cubs should “absolutely” take pitches against Bauer and drive his pitch count up.
“That’s really the approach against Bauer,” he said. “It’s exactly what it would be even with a healthy pinky. This is a guy who has been plagued by inconsistency throughout his career. He walked 70 guys in 190 innings this year. You’re going to try and drive his pitch count up. That’s what the Cubs are really, really good at. That’s actually their thing. They go up against a guy like Kluber, who throws strike one as well as anybody. It’s very hard for them to (be aggressive on the first pitch of an at-bat) because it’s really not in their DNA as a unit. Their DNA is to go up there, work pitch counts, get them to 100 pitches in five innings and then get into the weak part of the bullpen. That has been their game plan all season long, and with a 103-win season, it works pretty well. (Bauer) could show up and be great or he could show up and walk five. That will absolutely be their approach tonight. It’s very easy for them to default to that because that’s who they are. You’re hoping for a 40-pitch first inning from Trevor Bauer and you’re hoping for a bloody finger.”