ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
And now something we haven't been able to say for 71 years - tonight there's a World Series game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Game 3 matches the hometown and championship-starved Cubs against the not-quite-so-championship-starved Cleveland Indians. The series is tied at one game apiece. And joining me now is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: We saw a lot of excitement in Cleveland for the first two games of this series - fair to say we'll see even more in Chicago?
GOLDMAN: Yeah, probably about 40 extra years' worth. The Cub's drought of course is 108 years, the Indians only 68. I was in Cleveland and talked to the Cubs players about going home to Chicago for the next three games. And one player, Ben Zobrist, expects fans at Wrigley Field to be standing for all or much of the game.
And you see it in prices. The bars, restaurants around Wrigley Field reportedly are charging spendy cover charges, ticket prices in the thousands - so yeah, a lot of excitement.
SIEGEL: I want you to talk about one Cubs player who's generating a lot of excitement, Kyle Schwarber. You talked about him earlier in the week coming back from a bad knee injury ahead of schedule. He has not disappointed.
GOLDMAN: Oh, man - three hits, two RBIs. Everyone is amazed that he's doing this after those six months without playing without facing top-notch pitching. We all know how difficult that is. Schwarber's ability to come back without missing a beat - he's making great contact, driving the ball just as he did last postseason when he hit five home runs, a Cubs playoff record.
SIEGEL: But he's going to be limited in Chicago. You have to explain that one.
GOLDMAN: Well, yeah. He was the designated hitter in Cleveland. That's the American League's city of course, and the American league allows the designated hitter while the National League doesn't. And he's not clear to play in the field this weekend. And without that designated hitter, the most he can do is be a pinch hitter. And if he is that, he can only be a pinch hitter once per game.
So we're looking at, at most, three at bats this weekend from Kyle Schwarber. It's unfortunate for the Cubs but important to remember, Robert, they won 103 games, a major league best, without him. They won two postseason series without him. So they should be OK.
SIEGEL: Talk about the starting pitching matchup - Kyle Hendricks for the Cubs, Josh Tomlin for the Indians. Who's got the advantage?
GOLDMAN: I think Chicago. Hendricks had the best earned run average in the major leagues this season. He doesn't throw that hard, but his control and his placement are excellent. You know, we saw how good he is and how could be in last Saturday's pennant clinching win by the Cubs over the L.A. Dodgers. He shut out the Dodgers for seven innings, gave up only two hits.
Now, Josh Tomlin for Cleveland is another guy who doesn't throw a blazing fastball. He's got a very good curve and control. He's very good at not walking batters. But he does give up home runs. Whereas Chicago one Game 2 without the big hits, that may be different tonight.
Cleveland, Robert, has to show that it can get good performances out of starting pitchers other than Corey Kluber, who is so good and was so masterful in Game 1. You have to have more than one strong starting pitcher.
SIEGEL: You were in Cleveland where the two teams split. After a very convincing win in Game 1, the Indians were beaten very handily in Game 2. How would you describe the attitude going forward?
GOLDMAN: Well, you know, we've been talking about a new Cleveland attitude. We saw this certainly Tuesday night when the NBA champion Cavaliers won their opener, and they raised their championship banner. And the Indians won Game 1 that same night.
That winning attitude in Cleveland says, hey, we're OK in this series. But there's also some anxiety about the next three games in Chicago and the possibility of the Cubs going on a roll and clinching the title there. Our colleague in Cleveland, editor Ken Barcus, got a text after the Game 2 loss from a friend, and it said, when do pitchers and catchers report?
GOLDMAN: An allusion of course (laughter) to next year's spring training, so old habits die hard.
SIEGEL: That's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman talking about tonight's World Series Game 3 in Chicago, which unfortunately we won't be able to watch because it's up against the Yale-Columbia football game that's on television.
GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Decisions, decisions.
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