Cubs-Indians: Game Two Notes

One of the biggest strikeouts in last night’s World Series Game Two came in the seventh inning when Carlos Santana swung through a curveball from Mike Montgomery. The Indians had two on and two out, and trailed 5-1. One swing of the bat would have brought them to within a run.

The curveball has been Montgomery’s secret to success. The 27-year-old lefty began featuring it prominently after coming to the Cubs from the Mariners in late July. His sinker has also became a primary weapon. His pitching coach, Chris Bosio, deserves much of the credit.

“He emphasized that I throw my curveball a lot more,” explained Montgomery. “That, and throw my sinker down and away. He wants me to use those two as the base of my pitching.”

According to Bosio, the Cubs saw things on video when they were “getting ready to make a trade.” He wouldn’t go into detail, only saying that it was more about pitch selection than mechanics.

The transformation came in Chicago, but the curve had already become a focus.

“Last year, I was mostly fastball-changeup,” explained Montgomery. “Getting a better breaking ball — a more consistent breaking ball — was my No. 1 goal. In the offseason, I remember throwing about 40 or 50 of them in a row. Not in a bullpen, but on flat ground. Every single day, I would spin the breaking ball, working on different grips, working on different release points. I’ve been able to make it better, and it’s made a big difference.”

Montgomery said after last night’s game that he feared the elements would hinder the feel on his curveball. That ended up not happening. Despite the raw conditions, it felt “normal.”


Before the game, Francisco Lindor was asked to describe Trevor Bauer as a teammate. The Cleveland shortstop began his answer with “interesting.”

Other words he could have used are “unique” and “unconventional.” As a FanGraphs reader, you’re probably aware that Bauer’s workout routine and mental approach aren’t that of your typical pitcher.

I asked Bauer if he could replicate Mike Marshall’s 1974 season. Pitching for the Dodgers that year, the biomechanical marvel made 106 appearances and threw 208 innings.

“I’m sure I could,” Bauer told me. “I don’t want to do that — I want to be a starter — but I don’t have any doubt that I could. I’d have to make alterations in my training program to prepare for that. If I knew that’s what was expected of me, I’d find a way to get it done. No questions asked.”


Asked about Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor opined that the Cubs infielder “Looks like he’s mad” when he walks to the plate. He often swings as though he is. The aggressiveness of Baez’s hacks was commented upon in the press box by more than one person during Game Two.

Lindor also mentioned that Michael Brantley gives him “a sense of calmness.”


Ben Zobrist was asked about rising to the moment in big games. At age 35, and in the World Series for a third time — he’s played in six postseasons — Zobrist is comfortable on the big stage.

“It’s just a matter of being able to slow the situation down a little bit,” said Zobrist. “The older I get, the more it feels like it’s something I’ve done before. When I was younger, the first couple playoff experiences I had, it was tougher to do that. Now, yeah, you still have the nerves going and whatnot. But hopefully you’ve both succeeded and failed in those situations, and you kind of can focus on the moment.”

On Tuesday, Zobrist joined Babe Ruth (1927-1928) as the only players to have three hits in consecutive World Series openers.


The winner of Game One has gone on to win the World Series 63.1% of the time. That has been the case in 12 of the last 13, and 17 of the last 19, Series. The home team has won Game One in six of the last seven seasons.

The team winning Game Three in a 1-1 Series has gone on to win the title 64.9% of the time. That has happened in four of the last six occasions, and 11 of the last 14.


Last night’s loss was Terry Francona’s first in 10 World Series games. He is the only manager in history to win his first nine. At 36-20, Francona has the highest postseason winning percentage (.643) of any manager with at least 50 postseason decisions.


Danny Salazar pitched the sixth inning for the Indians last night. Making his first appearance since early September, he walked two but otherwise escaped unscathed. Kris Bryant, who lined to center against him, was impressed with what he saw.

“[He] looked like he didn’t take two months off,” said the Chicago third baseman. “His stuff was jumping out of his hand. I’m sure he had a lot of adrenaline going, but for him to come back [from a strained flexor muscle]… it was kind of like Schwarber. To be able to come back in a World Series and compete, and be able to do what they do, is impressive.”

Terry Francona agreed on how the ball was coming out of Salazar’s hand, but he wasn’t enamored with his command. Asked after the game if there’s a chance he’ll get a start in the Series, the Indians skipper said, “I think we’re better served using him out of the bullpen.”


Like everybody else, Willson Contreras is wowed by what Kyle Schwarber is doing. How can you not be when someone who essentially missed the entire year is 3-for-7 in the World Series? No player in history had ever recorded a World Series hit after not having any during the regular season.

“I love Schwarber,” Contreras said after Game Two. “I tell him, ‘Hey, you have a bigger heart and you’re going to do something special in the World Series. To start playing after six months, I mean, he’s just a special kid.”

Contreras is special, as well. The rookie caught Jake Arrieta last night, and not only did he guide the right-hander through five hitless innings to start the game, he offered valuable advice after Arrieta walked two batters in the first.

“I went out there and told him to not try to do too much with his pitches,” said Contreras. “His ball was moving enough for him to try to be perfect. I set myself right in the middle of the plate, and his ball was still moving. I was able to make that kind of adjustment with him.”


Joe Maddon shared some interesting thoughts on why he had certain right-handed hitters in the lineup against Trevor Bauer last night:

“Bauer kind of presents as a reverse split guy,” explained the Chicago manager. “The thing with reverse split guys is that if you think about it, a righty throwing to a left-handed hitter, they’re throwing the ball to the weak part of the bat all the time. They’re getting on guys’ hands with the cutter, elevated fastball, breaking ball in the dirt. With the right-handed hitter, they reverse guys, have a tendency to throw the ball to the barrel… Not to say a lefty cannot hit him. But if you have the option between a righty and a lefty, if you’re going to do that platoon thing, I prefer playing the right-hander against this pitcher.”


Counting the postseason, Andrew Miller has made a career-high 77 appearances. His 88 innings are the most — by nearly 20 innings — he’s thrown since moving into a relief role five years ago. On Tuesday night, the overpowering southpaw threw 46 pitches, his highest number since his days as a starter. Despite the workload, Miller topped out at 96 mph. Even so, the Indians have to be concerned. You can only ride a horse so hard, even a bullpen horse.


Rob Manfred met with the media prior to last night’s game. The commissioner expects the collective bargaining agreement, which expires on December 1, to be settled during the World Series or shortly thereafter. He’s encouraged by preparations for the WBC. Games in overseas locations like London and Japan are being discussed with the MLBPA. Major League-quality facilities are needed in the Oakland and Tampa markets. The Indians logo issue is attracting more attention because the team is in the World Series.

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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