CLEVELAND — Perhaps it was always going to take something extraordinary for the Cubs to finally break through 108 years of cursed history, even if it meant putting their fans through a little more agony along the way.
To say this World Series, and in particular this Game 7, qualified in that regard is like saying the city of Chicago partied a little bit late Wedneday night into early Thursday morning.
Coming from down 3-1 in the Series would have been extraordinary enough, and yet that turned out to be practically a footnote to history after the wild-and-crazy finish on Wednesday night.
Yes, beyond the ecstasy the Cubs’ 8-7 win over the Indians in 10 innings provided for their city, this will be remembered as a spectacular night of baseball for anyone who cares even a little bit about the sport.
In historic terms, this was a game for the ages, no matter how it played out. Incredibly, it lived up to that hype and more, starting with an atmosphere that was beyond electric, all the way to early-morning hours after a brief rain delay before the 10th inning.
For a long time it looked as if the Cubs might win it without any late drama, but, nah, Chicagoans probably weren’t buying that notion.
Sure enough, one minute the Cubs seemed oh so close to cracking open the champagne, with Aroldis Chapman on the mound in the eighth inning with a 6-3 lead. And the next minute the game was tied, thanks to a Rajai Davis home run, as all those pitches Chapman threw in Games 5 and 6 clearly took a toll on the Cuban lefty.
You’d think the Cubs would have taken that as a sign that once again, it wasn’t to be for this franchise.
But they rallied again, this time after the rain delay that took the game past midnight. Kyle Schwarber, whose return from knee surgery after missing the entire season proved critical, started it with a single, Ben Zobrist delivered a pinch-runner with an opposite-field double, and Miguel Montero drove in another run that proved crucial when the Indians rallied one last time.
With Chapman gone, rookie Carl Edwards Jr. got two outs, but then gave up a run before lefthander Mike Montgomery got the last out, getting Michael Martinez on a weak ground ball to Kris Bryant.
And so the seemingly endless wait is over for the Cubs, for the city of Chicago.
The Red Sox will always own the ultimate curse-busting feat, pulling off that never-done-before escape from 0-3 against the Yankees along the way to winning it all in 2004.
But this: this was a finish worthy of all the decades of waiting, if there could be such a thing.
For a long time it looked as if the Cubs might win it without any late drama.
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Four days ago the Cubs looked finished, trailing 3-1 in this World Series and in a funk offensively, sometimes overmatched by Indians’ pitching.
And now here they were, winning the final three games against the Indians, and becoming the first team to pull off such a Series comeback by winning the final two games on the road since the 1979 Pirates.
In the end, Maddon had to get creative because he simply didn’t trust his bullpen, so he used Jon Lester to bridge the gap between starter Kyle Hendricks and closer Chapman, just as he planned going into the game.
And though Chapman gave up the lead in the eighth, he came back out for the ninth and kept the game tied in the ninth, giving the Cubs a chance to score the winning runs in the 10th.
So even with his shaky finish, Chapman ultimately gave the Cubs exactly what Theo Epstein in mind when he gave up his top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, to the Yankees to get the Cuban lefty in that July trade.
Starting with that eight-out save in Game 5 that staved off elimination for the Cubs, Chapman got 16 outs over the final three games, all of which were crucial considering the state of the Cubs’ bullpen.
So it was a remarkable night in many ways. Most remarkable of all however, and certainly revealing of how much all of this meant to the city of Chicago, was how Cubs’ fans made Progressive Stadium sound like Wrigley Field for this historic night of baseball.
Indians’ fans were starved for a championship themselves, waiting since 1948, and yet somehow Cubs’ fans invaded their city and their stadium in a way you rarely see at a World Series.
The Cubs, meanwhile, made it worth whatever they paid for their tickets by scoring early and often, knocking out Kluber for the first time in three starts, and even roughing up Andrew Miller.
In the end, in fact, the difference was likely that the Indians’ lack of pitching depth, caused mainly by injuries to No. 2 and 3 starters Danny Salazar and Carlos Carracos, finally caught up with them.
Yet when all was said and done, nobody could say the Indians lost the Series. The Cubs had all the right stuff to pull off the comeback and put more than a century of curses and near-misses to rest.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News