Starting pitcher Corey Kluber (left) and catcher Roberto Perez were the two biggest stars for the Cleveland Indians in Game 1 of the World Series. (Associated Press photo)
The Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago Cubs 6-0 in Game 1 of the World Series, getting four runs on two homers by former Lake County Captains catcher Roberto Perez to back up ex-Fort Wayne Wizards pitcher Corey Kluber’s six shutout innings.
The win improved Indians manager Terry Francona’s World Series record to 9-0, with the first eight victories happening when Francona was the Boston Red Sox’s skipper. (Francona managed the 1992 South Bend White Sox, which I wrote about here.)
Perez hit a solo homer in the 4th inning and a three-run homer in the 8th inning to become the first catcher to hit two home runs in a World Series game since Gary Carter in Game 4 of the 1986 series.
Perez played 17 games with the Captains in 2009, Lake County’s last year in the South Atlantic League. He played the entire 2010 season with the Captains (who were now part of the Midwest League), batting .217 with 6 HR and 38 RBI in 118 games. He also made one rehab appearance with the Captains this year, going 0-for-2 with a walk.
Kluber allowed only four hits while striking out nine and walking none in six innings. He struck out eight batters in the first three innings, becoming the first pitcher to do that in a World Series game. He is 3-1 with a 0.74 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 24.1 innings this postseason.
Kluber pitched for Fort Wayne in 2008, going 4-3 with a 3.21 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 56 innings.
Terry Francona (left) and Joe Maddon shake hands during batting practice before an Indians-Rays game in 2013. (Photo by Chris Zuppa/Tampa Bay Times)
This year’s World Series pits two former Midwest League managers against each other — Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Cleveland Indians skipper Terry Francona.
Maddon made his managerial debut in 1981, two years after finishing a four-year playing career that included the 1976 season with the Quad Cities Angels. Maddon managed short-season Angels affiliates for three years before taking the helm of the Peoria Chiefs in 1984.
Maddon’s Chiefs team finished with a 66-73 record, good for second place in the Southern Division. (At that time, the Midwest League had three divisions: Southern, Central and Northern. Playoff teams were the three division winners and a wild card.)
Francona’s first managerial job was in the Midwest League, as skipper of the 1992 South Bend White Sox (73-64). The most notable players on that South Bend team were future big-leaguers James Baldwin II and Mike Cameron.
Then-White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk did a one-game rehab stint with South Bend that year. The future Hall-of-Famer homered in his first of three at-bats at Coveleski Stadium (now Four Winds Field), hitting the ball so far it struck a synagogue down the left-field line. That building is now the South Bend Cubs’ team store, and there is a plaque commemorating the Fisk shot on a nearby fence.
Carlton Fisk (right) is congratulated by Terry Francona after hitting a long home run during his short rehab stint in South Bend. (Photo by Ron Ryback/South Bend Tribune)
Los Angeles Dodgers hurler Julio Urias pitched for the Great Lakes Loons in 2013. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)
Former Great Lakes Loons pitcher Julio Urias is set to make postseason history when he starts Game 4 of the National League Championship Series tonight. The Los Angeles Dodgers lefty is only 20 years and 68 days old, which means he will become the youngest pitcher to ever start a major-league playoff game.
He will take that distinction away from Bret Saberhagen, who was 20 years and 175 days old when he started Game 2 of the 1984 American League Championship Series for the Kansas City Royals. Saberhagen received a no-decision in that game after giving up three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out five batters in eight innings. One year later, Saberhagen won the A.L. Cy Young Award and helped lead the Royals to a World Series championship.
Urias pitched for the Loons in 2013, going 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA, 67 strikeouts and 16 walks in 54.1 innings. He made his professional debut in the Midwest League at age 16, making him the youngest MWL pitcher since then-17-year-old Felix Hernandez appeared in two games for the 2003 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
Urias will face off against seasoned playoff veteran (and fellow Midwest League alumnus) John Lackey in NLCS Game 4. The 37-year-old righty will be making his second postseason start for the Chicago Cubs, and his 22nd playoff start overall. Lackey is 8-5 with a 3.22 ERA, 103 strikeouts and 41 walks in 131.1 postseason innings (24 games/21 starts).
Lackey made five starts for the Cedar Rapids Kernels as an Anaheim Angels prospect in 2000. He went 3-2 with a 2.08 ERA, 21 strikeouts and five walks in 30.1 innings.
Toronto Blue Jays prospect Ryan McBroom (foreground) stands at first base during the 2015 Midwest League All-Star Game. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)
A former Midwest League MVP took over the RBI lead in the Arizona Fall League after driving in seven runs for the Mesa Solar Sox on Monday.
Toronto Blue Jays prospect Ryan McBroom drove in all seven runs on homers (a three-run homer and a grand slam). He has 10 RBI through his first five AFL games.
McBroom was named the Midwest League’s Most Valuable Player in 2015, when he batted .315 with 12 HR and 90 RBI in 127 games with the Lansing Lugnuts.