CLEVELAND — Corey Kluber never wanted so bad not to have to pitch.
The Indians righthander, lights-out all postseason, was slated to take the mound in Game 7 of the World Series if his team failed to close out the Cubs in Tuesday night’s Game 6.
Righthander Kyle Hendricks would go for Chicago.
“I’ll be rooting as hard as anybody for us to win [Tuesday night],” said Kluber, who is 4-1 with a 0.89 ERA in five starts this postseason. “But I think that my mindset [since his Game 4 start] was I’d rather be prepared and not have to pitch than try to will us to not get to a Game 7 and then not be ready when it comes.”
Kluber has been ready at all times this postseason. He pitched Game 4 on short rest — just the second time in his career he’d started on three days’ rest — and would do the same should this series go to Game 7.
“I still get in the same amount of work in between [starts], it’s just a little bit more condensed,” Kluber said. “I haven’t, for me personally, I haven’t found much of a difference yet in the way I feel when I go out on three days’ rest as opposed to four.”
In an odd coincidence, Kluber earned the victory in the AL’s 4-2 victory over the NL in July’s All-Star Game in San Diego, striking out one in a perfect second inning. That victory gave the AL, the Indians as it turned out, home-field advantage for the World Series.
“I never connected those dots at that point in time,” Kluber smiled. “If it does get to a Game 7, then hopefully that works in our favor.”
A few of the Cubs younger players have struggled this series at the plate, namely 23-year old second baseman Javier Baez and 24-year-old third baseman Kris Bryant. Baez entered Game 6 3-for-21 with nine strikeouts in the series, and Bryant was 2-for-17 with seven strikeouts. But he homered to make it 1-0 in his first at-bat of Game 6.
“We’ve already talked to Javy a little bit, I’m going to talk to some of the other guys, too,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I’m just trying to get them to alter their mental approach. What are you thinking per at-bat? What’s your goal per at-bat? What’s your goal per pitch? I really believe you have to reduce it to that. I believe that’s something you can handle at any age, actually. So right now specifically the physical adjustment is not necessary. It’s much more about the mental approach adjustment, and that’s what I’ve been talking about.”