Walking dread: Tribe gives Cubs easy access

Indians' pitchers issue eight free passes, directly leading to three runs in Game 2

October 27th, 2016

CLEVELAND -- The Indians were unable to do in Game 2 of the World Series what they did so sucessfully in Game 1: limit walks.

The Cubs were the only team to average more than four walks per game this season, and the Tribe issued only two free passes to take Game 1 of the Fall Classic. But with eight walks in Game 2 on Wednesday, the Indians lost, 5-1. For Cleveland to reclaim the edge, it will need to avoid putting so many runners on base.

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Five of the Indians' seven pitchers issued walks, which directly contributed to three of the Cubs' runs. walked twice, scoring on 's third-inning single and 's fifth-inning triple. And coaxed a bases-loaded walk to cap the three-run fifth.

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"We walked way too many guys today," said right-hander , who walked two, including Russell, in two-thirds of an inning. "I think that it's just one of those days for us. We'll bounce back this weekend with the starters that we have going and a little more rest, and I think we'll be ready to go."

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The Cubs ranked fourth in the Major Leagues with 3.96 pitches per plate appearance during the regular season, and they continued their patience in Game 2. Chicago worked the count and knocked out Cleveland starter after he threw 87 pitches in 3 2/3 innings and forced the staff to throw 133 pitches through five innings, 196 overall.

"We've been tough on pitchers all year and gotten a lot of pitchers in high counts early in the game, and that was a key for us tonight," said Zobrist, who walked once. "Guys just battled. After last night, we wanted to come out and get on the board early. Rizz did that in the first inning for us [with an RBI double], and that was huge. We put a lot of good at-bats together against Bauer early on and made them go to their bullpen."

The Indians walked eight or more batters only five times during the regular season, and unsurprisingly, they won just one of those games. They are 3-10 when they walk six or more batters and 20-30 when walking four or more batters.

Avoiding walks will be key for the Tribe to stay out of its bullpen, which has been heavily taxed at times this postseason. Overall, walks weren't a problem during the regular season -- Cleveland ranked seventh in the Majors with 2.87 walks per nine innings -- and they haven't been in the postseason either (29 in 89 innings).

"It's always important," said right-hander , who walked one in two-thirds of an inning. "When you're not commanding the ball the way that you need to, it gives their team more of an advantage. Everyone down there has good stuff, but we need good stuff in the strike zone.

"It's just knowing you've got to execute pitches in the zone. We saw the other day that they can be patient, but at the same time, they can be somewhat aggressive. If you execute a good pitch, you're probably going to be successful."