The Cubtober Diary: Do games in Cleveland=Less pressure on the Cubs?
CLEVELAND – When there is enough tension in the air that is easily palpable to the players, sometimes it can be a little much.
That’s the beauty and yet the drawback of playing in the first World Series at Wrigley Field in 71 years. Fans bring electricity like never before to the Friendly Confines yet brings equal tension as well, considering a championship drought of 108-years was four wins from coming to an end.
Maybe that’s why the Cubs’ bats were a bit silent during their three games on the North Side in the World Series as they managed just five runs in three games while dropping 2-of-3 to the Indians.
That brings up a potentially unthinkable question for the Cubs and their fans: Is the team better off being away from home as they play Game 6 and potentially 7 of the World Series?
“I honestly have not thought about it, but I can’t dispute that,” said manager Joe Maddon when asked that question on Monday. “There’s so much going on at home, even just getting to the ballpark. I know just family situations here, just taking care of everybody and just the inundated feeling that you get here, possibly it could loosen them up a little bit.
“Going from the hotel, bus ride to the ballpark is a lot easier, quicker.”
Conversely, does Terry Francona find the Cubs a bit more dangerous with a little less of the home crowd pressure on them? Not really.
So far in the playoffs the Indians have gone 5-1 at home with the only loss coming to Chicago in Game 2 of the World Series. Plus Francona, who sports an impressive 11-2 record in the Fall Classic, like one big advantage his team will have for one of two games being at Progressive Field.
“The biggest thing of all is when you’re the home team, you hit last so you get to use your bullpen differently, and that’s a huge advantage. That’s why so many good teams have better records at home,” said Francona. “I think every hitter’s probably going to be more comfortable in their home batter’s box because they do it half the year as opposed to going to a city once or twice a year.
“So there are some other advantages. But just the fact you hit last is very big.”
Perhaps another factor could end up helping both the teams when it comes to hitting in Game 6: The weather.
In a drastic change from Game 1 and 2 at Progressive Field, temperatures are expected to be around 72 degrees at first pitch of Game 6 and 68 degrees for a potential Game 7. While that does figure to help both teams it does give the Cubs a chance to have Kyle Schwarber show off more of his bat in better weather, since he can return to full-time DH duties with the games being played in an American League park.
“The one thing that I think hitters can actually feel their hands, and number two, Schwarber. Absolutely. Kyle makes the lineup longer,” said Maddon of the hitting advantage for the Cubs in Cleveland. “I’ve already said it on this phone conversation that I’m not a really big fan of the DH as much as I am right now. And I’ve never wanted to play Game 7 of a World Series as much as I want to right now either.
“So I kind of like the way all this is trending. I think our kids are going to react well on the road, like you said. I totally agree with that. Beyond that, Schwarber, and the weather has given us somewhat of a break.”
Along with being a few hundred miles away from the pressure of 108-years bearing down.