CLEVELAND (AP) — Jon Lester looked comfortable on a mound where he helped make history and Jason Heyward hit a three-run homer, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 7-1 win on Tuesday night over the Cleveland Indians, who welcomed back manager Terry Francona after a couple bumpy days.
Lester (2-0) allowed three hits in six innings as the Cubs moved to 11-3 for the first time since 2016.
Four years ago, the left-hander pitched three scoreless innings of relief in a drama-filled Game 7 of the World Series when the Cubs beat the Indians to win their first title since 1908.
Heyward, who drove in Chicago’s first run in the second, connected for his second homer to put the Cubs ahead 6-0 in the sixth. Progressive Field is also filled with pleasant memories for Heyward, who famously called a team meeting late in Game 7 to regroup the Cubs after the Indians rallied.
For the first time this year the Indians gave up more than four runs, ending the second-longest run (18 games) to open a season.
Cleveland played for the first time since it was revealed that pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac violated team rules by leaving the team’s Chicago hotel over the weekend. Both are being quarantined, although the Indians don’t think they were near anyone with COVID-19 when they ventured out.
Clevinger had been scheduled to face the Cubs, but his risky behavior landed him on the restricted list and in the doghouse.
Francona returned after missing eight games to rest and treat a gastrointestinal ailment that has bothered him for nearly a year. He underwent another procedure last week at the Cleveland Clinic and said he’s going to do try and finish the season.
“I can’t promise this is going to go perfect,” he said. “But I’m certainly going to give it the best shot I can.”
The Cubs pushed a run across in the second, which began with Kyle Schwarber battling for 11 pitches — to the delight of Chicago’s barking bench — before Adam Plutko (1-1) struck him out. But the at-bat may have helped Contreras, who singled, moved up on a walk and scored on Heyward’s single.
Chicago tacked on five more in the sixth of reliever Cam Hill on a sacrifice fly by Contreras and Happ’s RBI single before Heyward went deep off Phil Maton.
Jason Kipnis knew exactly where he was going. Mostly.
Back in Cleveland for the first time as a visitor after nine seasons with the Indians, Kipnis, who signed with the Cubs as a free agent, found himself in hallways and hidden areas he’d never been.
“I’m getting to see a whole different side,” he said.
Kipnis loved his time with the Indians and said it’s sometimes tough to think about what might have been in ’16 — if not for the Cubs.
“I’ve already had (Anthony) Rizzo walking me through where ‘I celebrated here. I celebrated here,’” Kipnis said. “I’m like, ‘Thanks, buddy, I get it.’ It’s years ago, but that game is never going to go away, it’s part of who I am now and the memories that I have to last a lifetime.”
Kipnis was greeted with a warm ovation from both dugouts before his first at-bat and he promptly doubled.
Carlos Carrasco (2-1) starts for the Indians, who will have another flashback from in 2016 when they face Kyle Hendricks (2-1). He started Game 7 when the Cubs clinched.