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Tough Tribe spoils Wrigley fun, takes back momentum

Francona uses every position player, goes to bullpen in 5th to take Series lead
October 29, 2016

CHICAGO -- When it ended, only four players in the Indians' starting lineup were still in the game.Michael Martinez entered as a pinch-runner in the top of the seventh inning and scored the winning run. Then he played some center field. And then some third base. Martinez was flawless at

CHICAGO -- When it ended, only four players in the Indians' starting lineup were still in the game.
Michael Martinez entered as a pinch-runner in the top of the seventh inning and scored the winning run. Then he played some center field. And then some third base. Martinez was flawless at both.
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Rajai Davis was doubled-switched into the game in the fifth inning, then sent to left field. He finished in center.
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Roberto Pérez started at catcher. Yan Gomes finished. Carlos Santana started in left. Brandon Guyer finished there.
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This tells you almost all you need to know about how the Indians beat the Cubs, 1-0, in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday night at Wrigley Field.
Manager Terry Francona called it "agonizing" after he'd moved players here, there and everywhere, but he pushed all the right buttons as his team took a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
Francona's scorecard was such a mess that Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway joked he'd used a player or two who weren't on the roster.
OK, Callaway was joking about that. Francona did use every last one of his position players, although all of them actually were on their roster. Before he ran out of players, Francona had used three left fielders, three center fielders, two third basemen, two catchers and four pitchers.
Here's guessing that both men loved it, that this was one of those games they may just savor for the rest of their lives, especially if the Tribe somehow wins two more times and celebrates a championship.
Bottom line? The Indians took care of business. Francona used all his position players and went to his bullpen in the fifth inning.
By the end, though, Francona had showed the world two things. One is that he gets how postseason baseball is different, perhaps as well as any manager ever has.
Maybe that's why Francona is 10-1 in the World Series and is attempting to become just the 11th manager to win three of them. He's 37-20 overall in the postseason. Only five managers in history have won more.
Francona understands the urgency of the thing and that every game is a entity to itself. He urges his players to focus on today and not give yesterday or tomorrow a second thought.
In this World Series, Francona has also reminded us that these Indians are one of baseball's most remarkable stories. To be hit hard by injuries, to have to piece a rotation together, and then to still end up two victories from a championship is a tribute to him and to his organization, and especially to all those players.
This was the kind of game a championship team wins, and Cleveland has won a lot of them lately. If you're thinking of connecting the dots, we're not there yet.

The Cubs were playing their first World Series game at home in 71 years, and there was a party atmosphere in and around the majestic old park. Street parties began around dawn and intensified throughout the day.
Into all this stepped the Indians, who are showing day by day that they're talented and tough and resilient.
"We know what we've got," Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "We know it's not always going to look pretty. No one really cares who gets it done as long as we get it done."

Kipnis was one of four players who were in the game all nine innings.
"This was absolutely huge," Kipnis said. "Especially when a series is tied, the tipping scale can go either way. We knew it could be a low-scoring game. We knew it could be a 1-0 game. We were able to scrape one across, and that's all it took."
If the Cubs had any momentum from their Game 2 victory in Cleveland, it didn't buy them a thing. The Indians have thrown shutouts in two of the first three World Series games and five times in 11 postseason games overall.
"I don't know about the hype too much," Francona said. "I don't think it matters to the guys in the clubhouse like what outside expectations are for this series. I think what's important is what we feel inside there. And I think we've been pretty honest about it the whole time. We know we're going to have our hands full to beat these guys, and tonight was a good example.

"That was as close a ballgame as you're ever going to find, and we found a way to manage to win that game. You know, we say it all the time. We want to be one run better. That's about as true to form as you can get."
Cleveland won because it got a solid performance from a starting pitcher not named Corey Kluber. That would be right-hander Josh Tomlin, who pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings.
Finally, the Indians won on a night when they got more amazing work from their bullpen, this time with Andrew Miller, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen getting the final 13 outs.

When Francona summoned Coco Crisp to pinch-hit with the winning run in scoring position in the seventh inning, you could guess how it would turn out. Right, Crisp's pinch-hit single scored Martinez with the only run of the game.
"We still have our work cut out for us," Miller said. "It's a better position than being down 2-1. We've got to keep going."

Richard Justice is a columnist for Read his blog, Justice4U.