CHICAGO — For the briefest of times, there was reason to doubt what kind of night might be in store for Corey Kluber. Pitching on three days’ rest in Game 4 of the World Series, the Cleveland ace looked surprisingly human in the first inning against a Chicago team that had been blanked in two of the first three games of the series.

But after allowing a leadoff double to Dexter Fowler that led to the Cubs taking a 1-0 lead three batters into the bottom of the first inning, Kluber showed that any worries about his effectiveness were unfounded. He finished with six innings pitched, five hits allowed and six strikeouts. And, most importantly no further runs allowed.

Second baseman Jason Kipnis said it was fair for Kluber to wonder what kind of stuff he had once the Cubs scratched out a run, but he didn’t.

“You can start questioning yourself,” Kipnis said. “You’re on three day’s rest and you might be like, ‘Oh man, I’m not as sharp’ or maybe they’re due for something. I think he reminded himself along with everybody else here he’s still Corey Kluber and he’s got a Cy Young hanging on his mantle. He sharpened up and once we got him that lead we didn’t let it go.”

When the Indians reached the series, Kluber said he told manager Terry Francona that he was available on three days’ rest for Games 4 and 7, if necessary. Saturday night at Wrigley Field, he moved his career postseason earned-run average to 0.89 in 30 1/3 innings pitched – good for second-best all-time for pitchers with at least 30 innings in a single postseason.

He might not need to improve on those numbers, with the Indians ahead 3-1.

“I think we’re excited about the position that we’re in, but I don’t think that we’re counting too fast,” he said. “We know that (Sunday’s) a new day and we’re going to approach (Sunday) like we have every game to this point. We don’t want to let them start building momentum or thinking they’re back in the series or anything like that.”

Kluber handed the ball to elite reliever Andrew Miller, who allowed one run in two innings in the 7-2 win.

“He’s certainly shown everybody how good he is,” Miller said of Kluber. “He might be a little bit under the radar for some reason, but we’re glad we’ve got him. He’s as good as they come. He pitched great on short rest, and a lot of people don’t understand how difficult that is. He looked like it was a regular game.”

Added Kipnis, “Kluber’s outstanding. That guy needs to be a household name for how good he is.”
Mortal
The fact that Miller allowed a run was shocking itself. It came in the first at-bat of the eighth inning on the final pitch of a seven-pitch battle against center fielder Dexter Fowler, who after fouling off a pair of two-strike pitches deposited a 2-2 offering in the left-field stands for the game’s final out.

It snapped a streak of 16 consecutive scoreless innings this postseason for Miller, and given how he’s pitched it looked surprising. But with the situation he was facing, Miller said he wasn’t fazed by the blast.

“I felt like I had an idea of what I wanted to do and he hit it,” he said. “Give him credit. It’s a situation where I’m trying to throw as many strikes as possible and keep the game going, keep the ball in play. I saw what happened to Napoli’s ball the inning before. You just want to keep it going. I threw a lot at him. I certainly don’t want to walk anybody and I don’t want to get behind in the count any further and he put a good swing on the ball.”

Miller breezed through the rest of the inning on 11 pitches, ending it with strikeouts of Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist.

“It’s been pretty impressive,” Indians pitching coach Mickey Calloway said of Miller’s streak. “ People always talk about a guy that’s not used to coming into a situation that’s not very close, they tend to struggle. You see it with closers all throughout the season. I don’t think that was necessarily the case for him. He threw the best pitches that he can to Fowler and Fowler was doing a really good job of being aggressive and sitting on that slider. He got one out over the plate and drove it into the stands.
“For Miller to go out there and keep his composure and focus in a six-run game is pretty good. He came back and got the big outs in the middle of the lineup that we needed to hold them at bay.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>

Asked if he was a little shocked to be touched for a run, Miller said no.

“I knew he hit it well, but my hope was that I’d seen some of these balls die tonight (in the wind),” he said. “I don’t want to give up a run, there’s no doubt about that, but for me I was trying to get going as quick as I could. He put together a great at-bat, honestly. It was a little frustrating, him fouling some pitches off, but I wanted him to put the ball in play and unfortunately he hit the ball over the fence. Great at-bat, but we know that. Fortunately we had a big lead and held onto it.”
Blast
In Game 3, a strong breeze blowing toward the outfield yielded a 1-0 Cleveland win in which the lone run was scored thanks to some aggressive base running. So it stands to reason that a colder night with a stronger wind blowing toward home plate would result in a trio of home runs, right?

Carlos Santana turned the momentum of the game with a leadoff home run in the second inning that drew the Indians back even with the Cubs at one. Santana hit a 3-2 pitch to right field for his third postseason home run.

“They got the first run, and I hit the home run and brought new energy for the team so we could come back,” he said.

Outfielder Coco Crisp, who had the lone RBI on Friday night, said Santana’s blast energized the Indians.

“It was a big pick-me-up for us,” he said. “Always a home run is a little more than scoring a run during the World Series. You get excited anyway, but when he hit that everybody got up and got excited, especially after they had just scored. I think he changed the momentum and it was a big hit for us.”
Quotable
“They’re ready. They’re deserving. They’ve adopted me as their own and I’ve adopted them. They know I love that city and we’re one win away from the championship. It’s going to be a tough win, so we’ve got to be there first, but it’s going to be a fun one if we get it.” — Kipnis, a Chicago-area native, on Cleveland hoping for its first World Series title since 1948.