It took 108 years, but the greatest championship drought in sports history is finally over.
And Holy Cow what a game it was!
The Cubs needed 10 innings to settle one of the most memorable games in baseball history, but Ben Zobrist doubled in the 10th inning and Miguel Montero followed with the game-winning single to lift the Cubs to an 8-7 win in Game 7 over the gritty Cleveland Indians, finally bringing a championship to the North Side for the first time in over a century.
It could have been much simpler. Only four outs away from their first title since 1908, Aroldis Chapman set himself up to be the Windy City’s latest goat after he blew a three-run lead in the eighth, giving up a game-tying, two-run home run by Rajai Davis.
Davis made the thousands of Cubs faithful sweat again in the bottom half of the 10th plating Ben Guyer to cut the lead to one run, but Mike Montgomery came in to get Michael Martinez on slowly hit roller, that Kris Bryant gobbled up at third base and fire to Anthony Rizzo for the final out.
And the celebration of a lifetime was on!
Chapman recovered to throw a perfect ninth, sending the game to extra innings before rain halted play for 17 minutes.
Once play resumed, Kyle Schwarber singled against Bryan Shaw, replaced by pinch-runner Albert Almora Jr. One out later, Anthony Rizzo was intentionally walked, bringing Zobrist to the plate.
Zobrist lined a 1-2 pitch down the third-base line, his double scoring Almora Jr. to give the Cubs another lead. Miguel Montero added an RBI single later in the inning to add an insurance run, which was crucial given the state of the Chicago bullpen.
With Jon Lester and Aroldis Chapman already spent, manager Joe Maddon turned to rookie Carl Edwards Jr., a rookie who spent most of the season’s first half at Triple-A.
Edwards issued a two-out walk to Brandon Guyer to bring the tying run to the plate, then after Guyer moved to second on defensive indifference, Davis drove him in with another clutch hit to cut the lead to one.
Lefty Mike Montgomery came in for the Cubs, recording the biggest out in franchise history when he got Michael Martinez to ground out to Kris Bryant on his second pitch, kicking off a wild celebration on the field.
After 103 victories this season – and 39,466 days since their last World Series clincher in 1908 – the Cubs are once again the kings of baseball, putting the “Curse of the Billy Goat” to bed once and for all with one of the most memorable games in baseball history.
The Cubs became the first team since the 1985 Royals to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the World Series to win it all, and the first since the 1979 Pirates to do it by winning the final two games on the road.
The Cubs led 5-1 in the fifth and 6-3 in the eighth as six different players drove in runs. David Ross’ solo home run in the sixth seemed to take the air out of the Indians, who had fought back to cut Chicago’s four-run lead to two in the previous inning.
Anthony Rizzo catches the final out.
Kyle Hendricks allowed two runs (one earned) over 4.2 innings, handing the ball over to Lester, who also gave up two runs (one earned) over his three innings to hold the lead.
But Chapman couldn’t seal the deal, coughing it up in the eighth to add another chapter to what had already been an intriguing series.
Corey Kluber wasn’t effective pitching on short rest for the second straight start, allowing four runs on six hits over four-plus innings. After striking out nine Cubs in Game 1 and six more in Game 4, Kluber didn’t record a strikeout in Game 7, the first time in his career that’s happened in a start.
Even Andrew Miller was hittable, allowing two runs in 2.1 innings, including Ross’ homer. Miller and Kluber gave up more runs in Game 7 (2 and 4, respectively) than they had all postseason (1 and 3).
The Cubs now officially shed the “Loveable losers” tag, leaving the Indians’ 69-year drought as the new standard by which baseball dry spells are measured.
Ironically, the Indians blew the same 3-1 series lead that the Warriors did against the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals this past June when Cleveland won its first major sports title in 52 years.
The win also cements Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein as a future Hall of Famer after he served as the architect for the 2004 Red Sox team that broke the “Curse of the Bambino” and now the first Cubs champion in 108 years.
Ben Zobrist gets the big hit in the 10th to break a 6-6 tie.
(David J. Phillip/AP)
The atmosphere at Progressive Field was electric from the outset, split between the hometown Tribe fans and the thousands of Cubs fans that made the trek from Chicago.
Dexter Fowler rewarded those Cubs fans with a solo home run on Kluber’s fourth pitch of the night, giving Chicago a quick lead. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the game was being played on the North Side, as Cubs fans took over the ballpark as Fowler rounded the bases.
Carlos Santana’s third-inning RBI single tied the game, giving the Indians faithful a chance to drown out the visiting fans for the first time all night.
Chicago answered with two runs in the fourth as Game 6 hero Addison Russell hit a sacrifice fly and Willson Contreras doubled in a run, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead.
Javier Baez atoned for two earlier errors with a solo homer against Kluber to open the fifth. That was all for Kluber as Terry Francona called on Miller to stop the bleeding.
But a two-out walk of Bryant set up Rizzo’s RBI double, pushing the lead to 5-1.
Hendricks retired the first two batters in the fifth, but Santana drew a walk and Maddon made the call for Lester, who threw 90 pitches over six innings in Sunday’s Game 5 win.
Rajai Davis gives Cleveland some new hope with a game-tying home run in the eighth but it’s not enough.
Jason Kipnis hit a dribbler in front of the plate that Ross – who entered the game to catch Lester – pounced on and fired wide of first. Rizzo and Kipnis collided as the ball left the field of play, putting men on second and third with two out for Francisco Lindor.
Lester wound up doing the damage to himself, spiking a 57-foot pitch that bounced off Ross, deflecting to the backstop as both runners came around to score.
All of a sudden, the Indians trailed by two runs and the crowd – which once sounded like Wrigley Field East – had awoken as though LeBron had just drained a three at the buzzer.
Ross, who was set to retire after the game, made up for his error, launching a solo shot against Miller in the sixth, stretching the Cubs’ lead back to three runs. At 39 years, 228 days, Ross became the oldest player to hit a home run in Game 7 of a World Series.
Lester allowed a man on base in both the sixth and seventh, but the Indians never got the tying run to the plate against him.
After Jose Ramirez reached on an infield hit with two out in the eighth, Maddon brought in Chapman, who had thrown 62 pitches over the previous three days in Games 5 and 6.
Guyer lined a double to right-center, scoring Ramirez to trim the Cubs’ lead to two, then Davis turned on a 97 mph fastball, drilling it to left field where it just cleared the high wall, tying the game and sending the crowd into a frenzy.
The game was still tied after nine, at which point rain began falling harder on the field, causing a delay of 17 minutes as the tarp was whisked on and off the field.
The delay may have settled the Cubs, who came out and scored twice in the 10th, then watched Montgomery get the most important out in franchise history and start a party in Wrigleyville that isn’t likely to end anytime soon.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News