Peavy sharp as Sox down Tigers in home opener


Peavy sharp as Sox down Tigers in home opener

Jake Peavy will tell you his first concern is all about winning. But the righty also admitted he doesn't want to give fans any reason to dislike him.

He certainly didn't do that Friday, throwing 6 23 solid innings to help lead the White Sox past Detroit in a 5-2 home opener victory. Peavy struck out eight, only issuing one walk and allowing two runs on two hits. This coming against a Tigers lineup that entered Friday averaging nearly seven runs per game.

"It just seemed like from the first pitch, he was more intense and more aggressive," A.J. Pierzynski said. "Sometimes in the past he's waited until he got into trouble and then went. But today he went from pitch one and you see the results."

The results were that Peavy never really got in any trouble. He allowed a two-out, two-run home run to Delmon Young in the seventh, but that was it. Peavy cruised through the powerful Detroit lineup, working his fastball and off speed pitches in perfectly.

"I struck probably as many guys out on a fastball today as I did on a breaking ball, and that's an encouraging sign when you can get guys out with your fastball," Peavy explained. "Obviously, you'd like to see the numbers creep up to what they once were, but at the same time if you can throw fastballs by somebody, keep guys off balance, that's what you're trying to do."

Peavy actually generated five swings and misses on his fastball and seven on other offerings -- slider, change up, curveball, cutter. His fastball averaged about 91 miles per hour, although he frequently touched 92 and 93 with it. And with his location and command of his breaking stuff, that was all he needed.

"He's got that extra little jump on his fastball," Paul Konerko said. "He'd be the first to tell you he's not throwing 95, 96 like he was with San Diego, but he's throwing 92, 93 -- that's enough in this league velocity's not everything, but if you can hit spots like he can and have the breaking ball he has, it makes a world of difference when you can rush it up there a couple more miles per hour."

Things easily could've unraveled early for Peavy when the game was paused in the top of the first for about 10 minutes after Miguel Cabrera voiced a complaint about the batter's box. Peavy didn't throw during that break -- although Pierzynski broached the idea -- and ultimately wasn't worse off for it.

"Next time it's like that we're going to stop the game and re-do the boxes for us," laughed Pierzynski.

Peavy's effort was buoyed by an odd offensive combination in the seventh inning. After Konerko delivered a two-out RBI single to put the Sox up 2-0, Pierzynski laced a line drive into the right field corner. Brennan Boesch had a bit of trouble with the ball in the corner, and third base coach Joe McEwing decided to get aggressive, sending Konerko around third. He just barely slid in under Alex Avila's tag to put the Sox up 3-0.

"Usually I'm getting the stop sign for sure -- when Joe McEwing was wheeling me around I was a little bit, uh, curious about that, wondering what the heck was going on," Konerko said dryly. "And the play at the plate, I don't know if I was safe or out, but it seems like most times I slide like that into a play, the guy usually calls me out, so I was kinda surprised he called me safe. As an umpire, I gotta believe it's hard to not to anticipate me being out. I think he made a great call, I just slid underneath it."

That last run was all the Sox needed, although Detroit battled back in the seventh and eighth innings. But stellar defensive plays by Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez stopped both Detroit scoring threats, and a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth put the game out of reach, even for the powerful Tigers offense.

"You're playing against that team, with that lineup and that pitching staff, you have to try to keep pressure on them because when they get to hammer on us, they're going to put pressure and do everything they can to be aggressive and do everything to stomp on us," Pierzynski said. "You have to do that, and that's the right way to go about it every day. It doesn't matter if you're playing Detroit or anybody.

"We've been playing well, and we said all along if we can keep guys healthy and guys have their years, then we should be okay."

Kyle Schwarber is back — while rest of Cubs lineup goes missing in World Series

Kyle Schwarber is back — while rest of Cubs lineup goes missing in World Series

CLEVELAND — Kyle Schwarber is a freak of nature, a hitter with the hand-eye coordination, explosiveness and guts to do what should be impossible. But it’s a bad sign for the Cubs when a guy who hadn’t seen big-league action in 201 days looked like he might have been the toughest out in their World Series lineup.

Now you know why the Cubs believed Schwarber could help get them that championship parade down Michigan Avenue — and how the Cleveland Indians won’t just fade into history’s background as The Other Team. After a 6-0 loss, the question now becomes: How soon will Schwarber be medically cleared to play the outfield?

Schwarber walked into the Progressive Field interview room at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, becoming the biggest Game 1 story after his stunning recovery from major surgery on his left knee. He didn’t have a hit all season — a brutal collision on April 7 was supposed to knock him out until Opening Day 2017 — but there was his name in the No. 5 spot as the designated hitter against Corey Kluber.

“Once I hit that line, a lot of emotions will come pouring out,” Schwarber said. “I’ll probably cry at some point today. It was a long road, but once we step in between those lines, it’s game time. I’m going to be locked in. I’m going to be ready to go (and) try to win this.”

Schwarber had tracked roughly 1,300 pitches off a machine at the team’s spring-training complex and gotten eight plate appearances with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, where about 100 people might watch those games.

Now Schwarber stepped into the batter’s box in front of a sellout crowd of  38,091 and a national-TV audience, a “Let’s go, Cubs!” chant starting in the second inning. Schwarber struck out swinging — Kluber notched eight strikeouts through the first three innings — but got acclimated against the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

Schwarber just missed a home run in his next at-bat, slamming Kluber’s first-pitch fastball off the right-center field wall for a two-out double in the fourth inning. That’s why the Cubs arranged for a private plane to fly him on Monday from Mesa to Cleveland, where he could change franchise history with one big swing, the way he drilled five homers during last year’s playoffs and became a Wrigleyville folk hero.

“With him, anything is possible,” said manager Joe Maddon, who thought it was an easy call to put Schwarber in the lineup.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

It’s hard to overstate how much the Cubs love his energy, presence and powerful left-handed swing, ever since they saw his hard-charging style at Indiana University and recognized the football mentality that made him an All-Ohio linebacker in high school. Theo Epstein’s front office drafted Schwarber fourth overall in 2014, back when it almost looked like a reach for a DH with an unclear defensive future behind the plate or in the outfield.

After getting a better-than-expected progress report last week from Dr. Daniel Cooper — the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL — Schwarber went full speed ahead. That’s really his only gear.

“I called Theo right away and I was like: ‘Hey, I’d love the opportunity to try,’” Schwarber said. “Knowing that I had the opportunity to try and get back, it would kill me deep down inside if I didn’t. And I knew going into it there were no guarantees.

“I didn’t want the media attention. I didn’t want any of that. I did it for my teammates. I did it for me, too. That’s the competitor in me.”

The Cubs made Schwarber untouchable in any trade talks, even as the New York Yankees dangled Andrew Miller, who now looms as another World Series X-factor in the Cleveland bullpen.

Schwarber worked a six-pitch walk against Miller in the seventh inning before the dominant left-handed reliever escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam by getting Willson Contreras to fly out to shallow center field and striking out Addison Russell and David Ross.

Miller won the battle again with two runners on in the eighth inning, striking out Schwarber swinging at an 84-mph slider to end the threat. But the Cubs can feel it coming, and they will need Schwarber against a Cleveland team that isn’t just happy to be here.

“He had a postseason for the ages last year,” Epstein said. “He’s only had four or five days of live pitching. But some things transcend standards and routine and we think he’s capable of some special things. He’s going to face great pitching, so he’s going to make outs, just like all our guys. But we think there’ll be a moment where he does something special for us.”

Kluber, Miller continue domination as Cubs drop Game 1 of World Series

Kluber, Miller continue domination as Cubs drop Game 1 of World Series

CLEVELAND - The Cubs proved Andrew Miller is not immortal.

Well, sort of.

The Cubs actually put some pressure on the ALCS MVP with the 0.00 career ERA in the postseason, but Miller pitched out of a pair of jams to thwart the Cubs' only true threats.

Behind Miller's Houdini acts and Corey Kluber's pitching, the Indians went on to claim Game 1 6-0 in front of 38,091 fans at Progressive Field in downtown Cleveland.

Kluber was on all night, striking out eight in three innings to set a World Series record. He finished with nine whiffs to set a new Indians postseason record.

The Cubs managed just four hits off Kluber and he didn't walk a batter to lower his 2016 playoff ERA to a ridiculous 0.74.

Kyle Schwarber launched a double off Kluber in just his second at-bat in the big leagues since April 7, missing a homer by a matter of inches in the fourth inning.

But the Cubs' offense didn't put together a solid threat when Ben Zobrist knocked Kluber out of the game with a leadoff single in the seventh.

Miller came in and promptly walked Schwarber and surrendered an 0-2 hit to Javy Baez to load the bases with nobody out.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

The Cubs looked poised to mount a comeback against a guy who had not allowed a run in 20 career postseason innings, including 11.2 scoreless frames this October entering the World Series.

But Miller buckled down, inducing a shallow fly ball from Willson Contreras that wasn't deep enough to score Zobrist before Addison Russell and David Ross struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs challenged Miller again in the eighth when Kris Bryant walked and Zobrist singled for his third hit of the night, but Schwarber whiffed on two massive swings to strike out and end the inning.

Miller may have kept the shutout intact, but the Cubs also forced him to throw 46 pitches, his most since September 2011. That could have an impact later in the series, including Game 2 Wednesday night.

Jon Lester, meanwhile, struggled in the first inning and put the Cubs in an early hole.

After getting two quick outs, the co-NLCS MVP gave up a single to Francisco Lindor, who then stole second base, before walking the next two batters to load the bases.

An infield hit plated one run and then Lester plunked Brandon Guyer with an 0-2 pitch to force in another run.

Lester allowed another run came on a homer from Roberto Perez - a lined shot to left field that hit the railing just above the wall.

Perez broke the game open in the eighth with a three-run blast off Hector Rondon. The backup catcher only had 11 homers in 422 at-bats over three big-league seasons before this October.

The Cubs and Indians will square off in Game 2 of the World Series Wednesday night. The game was moved up an hour to 6:08 p.m. Chicago time with a threat of rain in Cleveland.