Run for the Ring: World Series Game 1
As the Cubs were set to partake in their first Fall Classic appearance since 1945, that news was somehow upstaged by a revelation even more shocking:
Kyle Schwarber was somehow returning from his brutal knee injury to join the active roster.
Schwarber got hurt just a few days into the 2016 season, colliding with teammate Dexter Fowler in the outfield and tearing his ACL and LCL. He missed the rest of the regular season and all of the Division Series and Championship Series, but made a remarkable recovery and just over six months after the injury, was cleared to resume baseball activities. So he went down to Arizona and took over a thousand swings off a pitching machine at the Cubs complex and then also played in a few Arizona Fall League games to get up to speed.
The news of Schwarber’s return trickled out as the Cubs were working out at Wrigley Field in between the NLCS and World Series and was made official on the morning of Oct. 25, some 10 hours before first pitch of Game 1.
So as Corey Kluber and Jon Lester got set for a battle of the aces, Joe Maddon penciled Schwarber’s name into the lineup as the designated hitter:
Dexter Fowler – CF
Kris Bryant – 3B
Anthony Rizzo – 1B
Ben Zobrist – LF
Kyle Schwarber – DH
Javy Báez – 2B
Chris Coghlan – RF
Addison Russell – SS
David Ross – C
Jon Lester – P
Rajai Davis – CF
Jason Kipnis – 2B
Francisco Lindor – SS
Mike Napoli – 1B
Carlos Santana – DH
José Ramírez – 3B
Brandon Guyer – LF
Lonnie Chisenhall – RF
Roberto Pérez – C
Corey Kluber – P
Schwarber faced a tough task going up against Kluber after nearly seven months off, as the Indians ace went 18-9 that season with a 3.14 ERA and finished third in American League Cy Young voting. Making matters worse, Kluber was red-hot, entering play that night with an 0.98 ERA in 3 postseason starts to that point.
Naturally, Schwarber struck out swinging in his first at-bat, but the second time up, he took Kluber high off the right-field wall, narrowly missing a homer and cruising into second with a double. He walked in his third trip to the plate, winning a heck of a battle against the Indians’ nasty left-handed relief ace Andrew Miller.
Schwarber struck out again in his final at-bat, finishing with a pair of strikeouts as the Cubs whiffed 15 times total as a team in a 6-0 Game 1 loss. Kluber was dominant, tossing 6 shutout innings and lowering his postseason ERA to 0.74 in the process.
- As we all know, the 2016 World Series wound up as one of the most dramatic ever, culminating with maybe the greatest game in the history of the sport. But it started with a flair of drama, too, as it was a meeting between the two longest championship droughts in Major League Baseball (Cubs – 108 years; Indians – 68 years).
- Lester entered Game 1 with a 3-0 record, 0.43 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in 3 career World Series starts.
- In the previous six World Series (2010-15), the winner of Game 1 went on to win the entire series (2010 Giants, 2011 Cardinals, 2012 Giants, 2013 Red Sox, 2014 Giants, 2015 Royals). That streak obviously was snapped in 2016.
- It was a wild night in Cleveland, as the Cavaliers hosted their championship banner after rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals earlier that year. Of course, the Indians then went on to blow a 3-1 lead in the World Series…