The memories of winning a championship two years ago came flooding back for the Chicago Cubs when they arrived at Progressive Field on Tuesday.
The positive feelings continued once the game began.
Kyle Schwarber hit two of Chicago’s four solo home runs during a 10-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians in the first meeting between the teams since their classic 2016 World Series.
The Cubs won Game 7 of that Series in Cleveland for their first championship since 1908. While the significance of the latest victory didn’t come close to matching that, the Chicago players were reminded of it everywhere they turned.
“I like to think about the World Series, especially about all of the adversity we faced,” Schwarber said. “That was the moment we all live for, and we want to get back to it.”
Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, who doubled and scored in the second, was excited about the return.
“Just walking off the bus, into the stadium, you get a sense of nostalgia,” he said. “The first thing I noticed when we got in the clubhouse was they replaced the carpet, which was nice. I think we messed it up pretty good. I was thinking about that great memory, walking around with my World Series champion shirt on.”
Even the weather was similar. Game 7 was delayed by rain in the 10th inning shortly before Chicago took the lead. This matchup was played in a steady rain that began before the first pitch.
The Cubs won three games in Cleveland’s ballpark during the 2016 Series and continued the trend against Josh Tomlin (0-3), who allowed all four homers. Schwarber connected leading off the second and fourth. Willson Contreras went deep in the third and Ian Happ homered in the fourth.
Schwarber is batting .500 (15 for 30) with three homers and eight RBIs in seven career games at Progressive Field, including the postseason. The left-handed hitter, who grew up in southwest Ohio, made his major league debut in Cleveland in 2015. He had six hits in his first two starts.
“Obviously, he sees the ball well here,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “His debut was here, so that was adrenalin. The World Series was adrenalin. Now he’s starting to hit the ball really well, so he showed up in Cleveland at the right time.”
Tyler Chatwood (1-3) won for the first time with the Cubs, allowing one run in six-plus innings. He was pulled after a leadoff single in the seventh.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was out of the lineup two days after being hit in the head by a pitch. Maddon said before the game that the 2016 NL MVP has a cut above his left eye but no concussion after being drilled Sunday by Colorado’s German Marquez.
Maddon said he would speak with Bryant before making out Wednesday’s lineup.
Happ was 3 for 4 with two RBIs, and Contreras hit his first home run of the season.
Tomlin has allowed eight home runs in 12 2/3 innings over four appearances. The right-hander gave up five runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Jason Kipnis had an RBI groundout in the third, but right fielder Jason Heyward’s throw home got Rajai Davis at the plate to end the inning. Davis tried to score from second on Jose Ramirez’s single, but was out on a headfirst slide. Cleveland challenged but the call was upheld.
Heyward also took a hit away from Kipnis with a sliding catch in the sixth.
“It was one of those games where we got down early and it just … it was 5-1, but it seemed like more and they spread it out,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It’s kind of a miserable night and it’s more miserable when you’re losing.”
The teams complete the two-game series Wednesday night. The Cubs have won four of five and are two games over .500 (11-9) for the first time this season.
The rain intensified throughout the game, leaving puddles in the infield and causing Cubs reliever Steve Cishek to slip on the mound several times. The inclement weather led to a crowd of 16,408.
It only seemed natural the topic of the World Series was brought up before the game.
“It was one of the most interesting Series, probably ever,” Maddon said.
Davis’ eighth-inning home run off closer Aroldis Chapman tied the game and caused the ballpark to shake from the crowd reaction. Davis downplayed the significance of that moment on this series.
“We have to put it in perspective,” he said. “It’s not October, nor is it November. It’s not World Series baseball. It’s a lot different.”
Cubs LHP Jon Lester (2-0, 3.10 ERA) faces RHP Trevor Bauer (1-2, 2.67) in the series finale. Lester went 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in three appearances against Cleveland during the 2016 World Series.
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