CLEVELAND — Terry Francona felt he couldn’t take any chances.
While famously loyal to his players, the Indians manager replaced rookie centerfielder Tyler Naquin, who misplayed a ball in the first inning Tuesday night, with veteran Rajai Davis.
“I thought about it a little bit or a lot of bit,” Francona said. “I thought Nake [Naquin] was pressing, which during the regular season is something you can maybe send him back out there and let him play through it.”
Naquin failed to call for a looping fly ball off the bat of Addison Russell with two outs in the first inning, leading to two runs that turned a 1-0 game into a 3-0 one. The Cubs went on to cruise to a 9-3 victory.
“I mean, tonight’s our last game,” Francona said. “And with [Corey] Kluber pitching, I wanted to make sure we had a team on the field — again, we don’t have a crystal ball — but should catch the ball and play a clean game.”
Tickets, get your tickets here
Thousands of Cubs fans got their hands on tickets for Games 1, 2 and 6 at Progressive Field and an eye-test showed even more in the stands before Game 7.
“Oh, I don’t care who buys tickets,” Francona said. “I mean, this place is going to be rocking. They might have more money than us. Their suburbs might be a little wealthier than ours. That’s not going to have anything to do with the outcome of the game.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon didn’t second-guess himself for going with Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the seventh inning of Game 6, his team ahead five runs at the time. He called on Chapman, who pitched a career-long 2 2⁄3 innings in Game 5, rather than righthander Hector Rondon or righthander Pedro Strop, two relievers he used in the late innings much of the season but seemed to gradually lose faith in as the postseason has gone on.
“I could be melancholy and try to be sentimental and try to make a decision based on that, or you try to do what you think is the right thing to do based on skill sets, and that’s all I’ve been doing,” Maddon said. “I love these guys. These guys have been wonderful. It’s a great group. It’s a very tightly-knit group. But at this time of the year if you want to attempt to ameliorate people’s feelings, you might make a lot of bad decisions.”