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World Series notebook: Kluber lined up for three starts in Tribe's three-man rotation

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona had an idea how he was going to handle his pitching rotation in this World Series but he needed to see how Game One played out before ultimately playing his hunch.

It couldn't have gone much better. Ace Corey Kluber struck out nine in six shutout innings and did it in just 88 pitches. So Francona made clear Wednesday what most observers have surmised: The Indians are going to try to get through the series with three starters over seven games, and Kluber will get starts in Games Four and Seven.

"I just didn't want to put 'Klubes' in a tough spot by saying that before he pitched," Francona said prior to Game Two. "I didn't think that was fair to him. Then if something came up and he wasn't ready to make that start, I didn't think it was fair to him. But he's all set to pitch. That was probably our Plan A."

Kluber was lifted after giving up Ben Zobrist's leadoff single in the sixth. Andrew Miller worked out of two jams and Cody Allen wrapped up the Tribe's 6-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

"Part of taking him out then was with that in mind," Francona said. "You start getting deeper into the game, and if they mount a rally, getting out of that, you're really exerting. You're up around 100 or so, I think that's unfair to ask him to come back after doing that. So we got him out of there. He knew why, and he's ready to go."

Trevor Bauer went in Game Two and will get Game Five. Josh Tomlin will get Game Three Friday night in Wrigley Field and a potential Game Six here on Tuesday. Francona said he's confident in his starters not being overworked, even though they'll all be pitching on three days rest, because of the lights-out work being done by his bullpen.

While Kluber has been dominant in the postseason (3-1, 0.74), the Cubs don't look at three potential matchups with him as a daunting task.

"When you haven't seen a guy for a long time, sometimes it can be tough," said Cubs outfielder Ben Zobrist. "Everybody's got their own movement and the way the ball comes out of the hand and all that kind of stuff, that you kind of have to get used to. That's why pitchers tend to give up runs in the fifth, sixth inning, as you get through the lineup the third time. The more we see him, probably the easier it will be to put good at-bats together."

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Kluber, Miller and Allen combined to strike out 15 Cubs in Game One, tied for the second-highest total in World Series history. The record was 17, set by St. Louis in the 1968 opener against Detroit -- and all of those were by starter Bob Gibson.

St. Louis had 15 in Game Five against Kansas City in 1985 and Los Angeles did that in the opener in 1963 against the New York Yankees.

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The Indians went to their left-handed lineup in Game Two against Jake Arrieta, and that included veteran switch-hitter Coco Crisp in left field after Brandon Guyer played there in Game One against lefty Jon Lester.

Crisp, 36, is on the only player on the Series roster of either team who spent time with the Buffalo Bisons. He played four games for the Herd at the end of the 2002 season and was their key leadoff man at the start of 2003, batting .360 in 56 games before getting called up to Cleveland and the big leagues for good. His only minor-league games since have been injury rehab assignments.

Crisp, reacquired by the Tribe from Oakland at the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, has played 1,586 games in his career and won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2007. He said he still regrets the end of the 2005 season, the end of his last one in Cleveland. The '05 Tribe, managed by Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Eric Wedge and filled with ex-Bisons, won 93 games but finished 1-6 that season to blow the AL wild-card slot and watched the Chicago White Sox win the World Series.

"That's the only time I cried in the big leagues," Crisp said. "I'm standing there on the rail, my eyes getting watery. I don't think I've ever done that even in little leagues. We had seven games left. We got swept by the White Sox and the White Sox ended up winning. I remember that like it was yesterday unfortunately. Going home that year didn't feel like that was where we were going as a team."

Former Bisons catcher Chris Gimenez is here with the Indians but is not on the roster. Same for Cubs infielder Munenori Kawasaki, the big fan and clubhouse favorite the last three years in Toronto.

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Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, 22, was amazed what he saw a half-hour before the first pitch of his first World Series game: "Just seeing the fans, how packed the stadium was already at that time, it was pretty cool," he said. "Seeing the flags. It's always special whenever you go up to a manager when they announce your name and he gives you a hug, and he's like, "All right, buddy. Go time." It's cool. It's an awesome feeling."

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Veterans Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes has covered the team since 1983 for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and found himself as a flashpoint of anger in the clubhouse and among readers last month when he wrote that the Indians' playoff hopes were toast in the wake of Carlos Carrasco's season-ending hand injury.

Players just as Bauer and second baseman Jason Kipnis ripped Hoynes on Twitter and Hoynes eventually wrote a second column further explaining his point. After the Indians swept Boston in the division series, Hoynes wrote again why he was wrong as the bullpen picked up the huge void left behind by the injured starters.

Hoynes also said on Twitter he would jump into the cold waters of Lake Erie if the Tribe made the World Series. Lo and behold, Game One was Tuesday night and Hoynes made good on that point Tuesday morning, complete with a video posted on Cleveland.com.

Said Hoynes prior to his dive into the chilly drink: "I just hope Captain Ahab isn't out there looking to harpoon the Great White Whale."

Speaking of the Plain Dealer, it put out four separate sports sections Wednesday to commemorate the opening of the World Series and the Cavaliers' ring ceremony.

email: mharrington@buffnews.com

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