CHICAGO – There were no pigs flying down Addison Street Saturday night, nor had the temperature in hell – or even Chicago – dropped below 32 degrees.
The Cubs still have four more wins to collect before they put an end to their 108-year championship drought – the longest in professional sports – but following Saturday night’s Game 6 win over the Dodgers at Wrigley Field, one lengthy streak has officially ended.
For the first time in 71 years, the Cubs are headed to the World Series.
“It’s an incredible night,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. “I wish every Cubs fan in the world could be here.”
Joe Maddon’s team sent the Windy City into party mode, disposing of Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers with a 5-0 win, wrapping up the Cubs’ first National League pennant since 1945.
The Cubs scored twice in the first inning against Kershaw and never looked back, getting a brilliant 7.1-inning outing from Kyle Hendricks before Aroldis Chapman closed out the win in front of 42,386 raucous fans.
“You stand out on that platform afterwards and you’re looking at the ballpark and the fans and the ‘W’ flags everywhere, and truthfully I do think about everybody,” Maddon said. “I think about the fans and their parents and their grandparents and great-grandparents and everything that’s been going on here for a while.
“It’s overwhelming and it’s awesome.”
Kershaw allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits over five innings, taking the loss to end the Dodgers’ season.
Jon Lester and Javier Baez were named co-MVPs for the series, the first time since 1990 two players have shared the award.
Chicago legends Kerry Wood, Jim Belushi and Scottie Pippen took part in the festivities, while Eddie Vedder and John Cusack were among those in attendance to witness history.
“We were all sitting there and cheering,” said Wood, who pitched on the last Cubs team to fall one game short of the World Series in 2003. “Then it looked like there was 40-something thousand people that didn’t know what to do. It’s time to celebrate and have some fun.”
As the last team standing in the NL, the Cubs must now find a way to win four more games against the American League champion Indians, who host Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night at Progressive Field. Cleveland hasn’t won a World Series title since 1948, so one franchise is guaranteed to end its dry spell in this upcoming series.
“Cleveland is deserving of the World Series too, so this is going to be a clash of two cities in a long drought,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s really good for baseball.”
The Cubs came out swinging in the home half of the first, starting with Dexter Fowler’s leadoff double. Kris Bryant followed with an RBI single, giving Chicago the lead after only seven Kershaw pitches.
They had also eclipsed their run total and matched their hit output against Kershaw from Game 2, when he shut them out over seven innings of two-hit ball.
Toles took his eye off Anthony Rizzo’s fly ball at the last second, allowing it to glance off his glove for a two-base error. That put runners at second and third with nobody out, though the Cubs could only turn that into one more run as Ben Zobrist lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
“We were on the board,” Rizzo said. “I tell our pitchers all the time, if you don’t let them score, it’s impossible for them to win.”
Hendricks took those words and ran with them, retiring 19 of 20 Dodgers after allowing a leadoff single by Andrew Toles to start the game.
“His poise and maturity for how young he is, his ability, it took over tonight,” left fielder Ben Zobrist said. “It’s the biggest game in Cubs history in a long, long time and he came through in a big way.”
Some fans outside the stadium may have started celebrating a bit prematurely, as a single blast of fireworks lit up the sky from a nearby building beyond center field during the top of the second. Joc Pederson was startled by the noise and tried to call time out, but Hendricks had already started his delivery, so home plate umpire Ted Barrett didn’t grant it even as Pederson stepped out of the box. Hendricks’ pitch landed for a called strike.
It was that kind of night for the Cubs.
Fowler singled in Addison Russell to make it 3-0 in the second, then Willson Contreras made it a four-run game in the fourth, lining a solo home run to left field.
Rizzo slugged a solo homer with two out in the fifth, the fifth extra-base hit against Kershaw, who had given up only two over his first 19.1 postseason innings. The lead now stood at 5-0, leaving the Cubs and their restless fan base only 12 outs from the World Series.
“You try not to think about it until it’s happening,” Rizzo said. “Then it’s happening.”
Hendricks got the first out in the eighth before Josh Reddick singled, snapping the pitcher’s streak of 17 straight outs. Maddon lifted Hendricks after the hit, handing the ball to Chapman for the final five outs.
The rest was history. Literally.
“We have to celebrate this night, but it’s not over,” Ricketts said. “We broke a 71-year streak. Let’s break the other one.”
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News