The Cleveland Indians defeated the Chicago Cubs, 7-2, on Saturday night to take a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series, but they can’t look too far ahead.
There have been 70 teams that have been down 3-1 in either a World Series or a League Championship Series, with 10 of those teams completing a comeback. The most recent one was in the 2007 ALCS when the Boston Red Sox came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Indians to win and advance to the World Series, where they ended up sweeping the Colorado Rockies to win their second title in four years.
“We were down, 3-1, and still felt that we could win,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said after that series. “There’s obviously those three nights you go to bed and you don’t sleep. All you think about is trying to win.”
Of the 10 teams to complete the comeback, five of them have done exactly what the Cubs will have to do, which is win multiple games on the road. The last team to do that was the 2004 Red Sox, who famously came back from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in the ALCS to advance to the World Series, which they won to end the famous “Curse of the Bambino.”
The last time that it happened in the World Series was back in 1985, when the St. Louis Cardinals had a 3-1 lead over the Kansas City Royals that didn’t hold up. That Royals team did the same thing in that year’s ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays. That team was led by George Brett, who led the team with a .335/.436/.585 slash line.
In Game 5, which takes place on Sunday night, the Indians will send Trevor Bauer to the mound. Bauer last pitched in Game 2 of the series, when he went 3.2 innings, giving up two runs on six hits while recording just two strikeouts on 87 pitches. Cleveland manager Terry Francona explained his choice before Game 4, saying, “Ryan Merritt did a nice job for us against Toronto, but Trevor Bauer has been a good pitcher for us for four years.”
The Cubs will send left-handed pitcher Jon Lester to the mound. Lester has been their ace all season, as he got the opening night start. His last outing, which was in Game 1, was a disaster, as he went 5.2 innings, giving up six hits and three runs en route to a Cleveland win.
If the series goes past Game 5, it will shift back to Progressive Field, which isn’t a very easy place for an opposing team to win, although the Cubs did it in Game 2 of the series.