CLEVELAND — The last time the Chicago and Cleveland played at Progressive Field, it was memorable and heartbreaking for the Indians, and memorable and electrifying for the Cubs.
The date was Nov. 2, 2016, Game 7 of the World Series, which the Cubs won 8-7 in 10 innings. It’s considered one of the greatest Game 7s ever played.
Tuesday night, the Cubs return to Cleveland for the first game of a brief two-game interleague series. Tuesday’s game will undoubtedly rekindle some emotions for both teams of that memorable Game 7.
“It’ll be fun,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com. “It’ll be fun to walk those steps. The locker room, the weight room. … It was pretty spectacular, and I think retrospectively, when it’s all laid out there years from now, it’s going to be looked at as one of the more interesting World Series, or seventh games, ever played.”
The Indians and Cubs met in the first spring training game in 2017, but Tuesday’s game will be the first game between the two teams that counts, since that Game 7 in 2016.
“(The spring training game) was the first time we saw them, and that kind of brought back all the emotions and all those memories,” said Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer. “(Tuesday) is the first time seeing them at our place, so it could bring back memories of Game 7 and everything that went down.”
The Cubs come into Tuesday’s game 10-9 overall but having won four of their last six games. After a slow start in which they lost five of their first eight games, the Indians, behind their outstanding starting pitching, have started to put it together. Since April 8, the Indians are 9-3, having won their last three in a row, despite ranking 14th in the American League in batting average, on-base percentage and on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
The Indians are second in the majors with a team ERA of 2.57.
“I think our starters take a lot of pride in being a part of our team that is so important and so vital,” said manager Terry Francona.
Four of Cleveland’s five starters have ERAs below 2.70: Mike Clevinger (1.75), Corey Kluber (1.96), Carlos Carrasco (2.31) and Trevor Bauer (2.67).
The one starter whose ERA is way above the ERAs of the rest of the rotation is the starter who will start Tuesday’s game: Josh Tomlin (0-2, 8.00).
Tomlin’s last appearance was actually in relief. He pitched the 16th inning and was the losing pitcher in the Indians’ 2-1 loss to Minnesota in Puerto Rico on April 18. Tomlin’s last start came on April 10, a 2-1 Indians win over Detroit in which Tomlin did not get a decision. In that game, he pitched five scoreless innings on four hits, with three strikeouts and two walks.
Tuesday will be Tomlin’s first regular-season appearance against the Cubs. He did start two games against them in the 2016 World Series and was 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. In 20 career starts in interleague play, Tomlin is 11-5 with a 4.39 ERA.
The Cubs’ starter Tuesday night will be Tyler Chatwood (0-3, 4.60). Chatwood’s last start was a 5-3 loss to St. Louis on April 17 in which he pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on one hit, with seven strikeouts and seven walks.
In three career appearances against Cleveland, Chatwood is 0-1 with 3.21 ERA.
Last year with Colorado he made one relief appearance against the Indians and pitched one hitless and scoreless inning.
In 12 career appearances in interleague games, Chatwood is 4-4 with a 3.77 ERA.