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Two home runs a major step on Indians catcher Roberto Perez's road back from injury

By Marla Ridenour Published: October 26, 2016

CLEVELAND: When he broke his right thumb in April, Indians catcher Roberto Perez might have felt like his 2016 season was wasted.

But he may be on an emotional path to redemption and stardom in the playoffs.

Perez became the first Indians player to hit two home runs in one World Series game and the first in the majors since Anaheim's Troy Glaus in 2002 as the Indians turned back the Chicago Cubs 6-0 in Game 1 Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Perez's solo shot to left field in the fourth inning off left-hander Jon Lester gave the Tribe a 3-0 lead. Perez put the game away with a three-run blast in the eighth when right-hander Hector Rondon hung a slider.

"I don't think I've ever had a night like that," Perez said.

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Corey Kluber dominates, Roberto Perez has multi-HR night to take Game 1 of World Series 6-0 vs Cubs

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 25, 2016

Corey Kluber took his brilliance on the mound to a new level on the game’s biggest stage and Roberto Perez blasted his way to a multi-home run night, leading the Indians to a 6-0 win against the Chicago Cubs to take a 1-0 lead in the World Series.

Kluber was dominant, putting together one of the best postseason outings in franchise history and racking up strikeouts at a historical rate. In the biggest start of his carer, Kluber threw six scoreless innings while allowing only four hits.

He also struck out nine hitters, an Indians record for a single game in the World Series. He was particularly untouchable early, setting a new World Series record by striking out eight hitters within the first three innings. The previous record was seven, accomplished by Bob Gibson, Orlando Hernandez and Randy Johnson.

Kluber was given an early lead as he worked his way into the history books. The Indians’ offense knocked Cubs Game 1 starting pitcher Jon Lester around early while he struggled with the strike zone. With two outs in the first inning, Francisco Lindor (three hits) singled up the middle. Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana each followed with walks to load the bases.

Jose Ramirez (three hits) gave the Indians the lead with a dribbler up the third-base line that ended up in the perfect spot to which Kris Bryant had no play at any base. Lester then hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch to bring in a second run.

Lester had allowed two earned runs in the entire postseason leading up to Game 1. The Indians matched that in the first inning and then beat it in the fourth, when Roberto Perez hit a laser of a home run that just cleared the wall in left field to extend their lead to 3-0. Perez wasn’t done at the plate.

Andrew Miller relieved Kluber in the seventh with a runner on first and immediately ran into trouble. Miller walked Kyle Schwarber and then allowed a single to Javier Baez to load the bases with nobody out, making it possible for one swing to turn the tide.

Wilson Contreras hit a shallow fly ball to center field that was caught by Davis, who made the out but missed Schwarber straying off second base for what would have been an easy double play. It was no matter. Miller, the ALCS MVP, rebounded to strike out Addison Russell on three pitches. Then, with a full count to David Ross and runners on the move, Miller struck him out as well to end the inning and hold the Indians’ 3-0 advantage.

Miller worked out of trouble again in the eighth. Bryant and Ben Zobrist singled to put runners on the corners with two outs and allow Schwarber to represent the tying run. Again, Miller’s trademarked slider ended the inning and the threat, and he added two more scoreless innings to his trade-validating October.

In the bottom of the eighth, Perez added some more muscle. Normally a defensive-first catcher, Perez crushed his second home run of the night to left field, a three-run shot that put the Indians up 6-0 and all but ended the game. Perez became the first Indians player to hit two home runs in a single World Series game.

And, it all helped to give the Indians their first lead within a World Series since 1948, the last time they won it all.

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Indians fan Tom Hanks goes head-to-head with Cubs fan Stephen Colbert on The Late Show

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 25, 2016

Tom Hanks has made his World Series loyalties well known—he’s all in for the Tribe.

As Hanks signed off on Saturday Night Live this week, he added a “Go Tribe” after naming all those who were a part of the show.

Then, on Monday night, he went head-to-head with noted Cubs fan Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. Below is the video.

Hanks’ career in large part began in Cleveland, and he’s held onto the city with fondness ever since. This week, he’s joined the community of Indians fans hoping to see their first World Series title since 1948.

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Leading up to the World Series, Tom Hanks reaffirms love for the Cleveland Indians on 'Colbert'

By Dan Kadar Published: October 25, 2016

Tom Hanks' adoration for the Cleveland Indians extends beyond giving the Tribe a shout on Saturday Night Live.

Hanks was a guest on Late Night with Stephen Colbert on Monday, and got into it with the Cubs-loving Colbert. Even though the bad luck Cubs are getting much of the attention leading up to Game 1 tonight, Hanks doubled down on the Indians.

"You can all stick your pins in me right now," Hanks said. "I know the entire world, and three-legged dogs and orphan children are rooting for the Chicago Cubs. I realize that, but you do not do three long, hot summers Shakespeare in Cleveland blowing time watching the Cleveland Indians play at a park that I swear was called at the time was called Cleveland Municipal Lakefront Stadium.

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Indians continue to shrug off underdog label heading into World Series

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 24, 2016

Just as they have all October, the Indians will enter yet another series as the underdog when they meet the Chicago Cubs in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night.

It’s something the Indians have grown accustomed to, being expected to fall short each step of the way. As the odds continued to be stacked against them, the Indians have seemingly gotten better, responding to each obstacle with more resiliency.

It’s reached the point that they might like it.

“I think we've embraced it pretty well. I think we enjoy it,” said Cody Allen. “But those are opinions and projections from outside this clubhouse and we can't worry about that stuff. I believe there's 25 guys in here that don't think we're underdogs, that believe in every single guy in this room. … But if we want to be labeled as the underdogs, we're fine with that.”

Per Bovada, the Indians’ odds to win the World Series are worse than they were against the Boston Red Sox or Toronto Blue Jays. The Cubs (10/19) are opening as nearly a 2/1 favorite over the Indians (17/10).

The Indians don’t necessarily see it like that. Or, at least, they have found a comfort within their own clubhouse despite the opinions of those outside of it.

“We believe that if we go out there and play the game the right way, play as a team like we've done, we can win a game on any night,” said Mike Napoli. “We've shown in the past two series we can't be taken lightly and how we do play as a team. We're a confident group.”

There are valid reasons as to why the Cubs are favored. Namely, that they won a league-best 103 games with a rock-solid club while the Indians have dealt with several significant blows around the roster, namely to the pitching staff. The Indians weren’t supposed to advance but did twice, earning the benefit of the doubt. They might not be picked to win the series, but they can’t be counted out, either.

Still, the Cubs being the most-talked-about team in the league won’t stop now that they are close to ending one of the most well-known droughts in sports. But that won’t bother the Indians.

“We haven't been talked about all year, which is fine for us,” Allen said. “They deserve that right. They won 103 games in the regular season, that's an extremely talented group over there. They deserve everything they've gotten to this point. They're a tough assignment, a tough task and we're looking forward to it.”

Then again, Cleveland has, for the most part, always been the underdog, one way or another. It’s essentially built into the fabric of Cleveland sports. Perhaps it’s nothing new.

“I've never seen Cleveland be the overdog,” said Sandy Alomar, current first base coach and formerly one of the leaders on the 90’s Indians teams that twice reached the World Series. “The only time we were the overdog was against the Braves [in 1995] and you see what happens when you run into four quality starters. Most of the time in postseason it's mostly pitching and defense. You get a couple runs and hopefully your bullpen can hold it up. We haven't scored that many runs, but our pitching has been remarkable and we've been getting some timely hitting.”

There’s also some recent history going against the Indians, who had the longer layoff of five days before Tuesday’s Game 1. The Cubs’ layoff was only two days. The last seven teams to have the longer layoff ended up losing the World Series.

To combat any rust, the Indians have been active with live batting practice and simulated games. Every pitcher except for Andrew Miller and Allen have thrown, and just about every hitter has seen some pitching.

“We're still working and doing stuff to keep us fresh, but at the same time this will give us time to get some rest, any of the nicks and pains we have we can get treatment,” said Napoli. “We're going to go into this thing feeling pretty good. We're taking the right steps to stay fresh.”

Timing is a main concern.

“When you’re used to playing every single day for the last 200-something days, you lose a little bit of that timing, that feel, that crispness,” said Chris Gimenez. “It’s your timing on a breaking ball or a fastball, that’s how it affects you. You’d think as a player you’d love these days off but once you get to this point, your body is so tired it almost goes into survival mode and you know when you’re ready to go.”

In many ways, things are going against the Indians, just as they have all October. Though it’s only seemed to give them more fuel to this point.

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Danny Salazar makes Indians’ World Series roster; Jason Kipnis expects to play Game 1

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 24, 2016

Danny Salazar makes Indians’ World Series roster; Jason Kipnis expects to play Game 1; First pitches announced

The Indians are still unsure as to how exactly he might be used, but All-Star pitcher Danny Salazar is back.

Salazar was informed on Monday that he was being added to the Indians’ World Series roster. Cody Anderson will not be on the roster.

“Excited. I got really excited,” Salazar said of learning the news. “I’m just really happy to be able to throw a ball without any type of soreness.”

Salazar has missed the entire postseason up to this point dealing with a strained forearm. He threw a three-inning simulated game Sunday night with positive results. It’s possible that Salazar could be the Indians’ Game 4 starting pitcher in Chicago. He could also be another option out of the bullpen.

“It’s really strong,” he said of his arm. “I don’t have any type of things bothering me. I feel really strong every time I go out there. Throwing the sim games, the rest in between innings, every time I was coming back, I was feeling really strong.”

Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said Salazar is built up to throw 65-70 pitches, or about four innings. It would be a start with a length similar to what Ryan Merritt gave the Indians in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. Salazar has ditched his curveball, throwing primarily his fastball and changeup with a couple of sliders.

“The velo was respectable at the beginning, but the last inning he was up there topping out at 97,” Callaway said. “When you're doing that in a sim game, that's pretty good. That's hard to do in a sim game. His stuff his there. … I suspect that he's going to have full arsenal whenever he goes out there and pitches.”

Ryan Merritt is also on the World Series roster, giving the Indians additional options for Game 4 or for some length out of the bullpen. Francona indicated that Game 4 could feature a combination of Merritt and Salazar, as neither can pitch a full game.

Although, considering the craziness before the ALCS, the Indians haven’t sent in the official roster yet.

“Nothing's official, so if we have another drone incident or anything with model airplanes or anything, we reserve the right till we have to turn it in,” Francona said.

Hurt wheel

Jason Kipnis expects to be ready for Game 1 despite the low ankle sprain he sustained while celebrating on the field in Toronto.

Kipnis took part in the simulated game Sunday night and ran the bases on Monday.

“I should be good. We're feeling good,” Kipnis said. “We’re progressing the way we had hoped. Right now, we're just getting out the swelling, getting range of motion back. If we can get it to where I can move around, the doctors have got stuff that can take pain away. I'll be all right [Tuesday] night.”

Francona added that Kipnis might not be at 100 percent, but that it wouldn’t get in the way of his status in the starting lineup.

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Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga to throw out first pitches at World Series

By Marla Ridenour Published: October 24, 2016

A fan campaign wasn't enough to persuade Major League Baseball  to select actor Charlie Sheen to throw out the first pitch in Tuesday night's Game 1 of the World Series between the Indians and Cubs at Progressive Field.

The Indians announced via Twitter Monday that Kenny Lofton will do the honors for Game 1 and Carlos Baerga for Game 2. Both are members of the Indians Hall of Fame and starred on the 1995 team that reached the World Series, falling to the Atlanta Braves in six games.

Baerga led the Tribe in hits that season with 175, Lofton was No. 1 in stolen bases with 54.

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