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Chicago Cubs, Arrieta look to send series to Game 7

Nov 1, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians infielder Michael Martinez warms up before game six of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians infielder Michael Martinez warms up before game six of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Cubs couldn’t have asked for the pitching to be lined up better for this series than it is. Now the question is, can they keep hitting the ball?

Had I told you that the Chicago Cubs would be in the World Series at the start of the year, you’d have been thrilled. And then if I told you Jake Arrieta would be on the mound? Ecstatic. Now, maybe it hasn’t worked out perfectly, as Arrieta isn’t exactly what he was last season, and the Cubs are down 3-2 in the series. But you really can’t help feeling good about their chances.

Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon has mixed things up finally in Game 6. With the return of Kyle Schwarber in the DH spot, there’s been some shuffling. No time to “ease” Schwarber in. This is the World Series. Javier Baez will remain in the lineup for his glove but drops to the ninth spot in the lineup. Kris Bryant will drop down to the three hole, with the rest of the lineup staying somewhat as it has all series. The biggest bat the Cubs will be missing might be Arrieta’s. But it’s nice to have Schwarber’s back.

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For the Cleveland Indians, Josh Tomlin will try to repeat the success of his Game 3 effort–this time at home. He and Kyle Hendricks went toe to toe, but it was the Indians scoring a lone run while their bullpen shut the Cubs down. The key to this game will be like every other this series. Get ahead early, avoid facing the dominant Indians’ bullpen arms.

Bryant and Anthony Rizzo look to have possibly broken out of their series slumps, but it’s the bottom part of the order that will either extend it to seven for the Cubs, or see it end in Cleveland. Baez and Willson Contreras–two of the hottest hitters coming into the World Series–have gone ice cold. And Jason Heyward has struggled all year but has shown some sign of life. With the DH back in play, the Cubs will need to score runs–and a lot of them.

Maddon says closer Aroldis Chapman could be available for two innings tonight if necessary. And if a starter is to come out of the bullpen, it’ll likely be John Lackey over Jon Lester. But ideally, the Cubs hope to ride Arrieta all the way to Chapman to close out Game 6–and to set up the opportunity to shock the world in Cleveland.

Here are the lineups for tonight’s Game 6:

First pitch will be tonight at 7:00 p.m. CT on Fox. ESPN Radio and 670 The Score will have the radio broadcasts. Be sure to check back tonight for more coverage of Game 6 of the World Series in Cleveland.

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