The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years Wednesday night, defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 at Progressive Field in one of the most dramatic Game 7s in baseball history. The win completed the Cubs’ comeback from down 3 games to 1 after Game 4.
They won Game 5 at Wrigley Field, before heading back to Cleveland for a back-to-back with their backs against the wall. On Tuesday, they tied up the series with a 9-3 victory. That forced a Game 7, which was the only fitting way for a World Series between the teams with the two longest championship droughts in baseball to end.
The game started off as well as the Cubs could have hoped. Center fielder Dexter Fowler homered to lead off the game—the first time that had happened in World Series Game 7 history. The Indians managed to tie the game in the 3rd after Coco Crisp doubled to lead off the frame, and was singled home two batters later by Carlos Santana.
That’s when it appeared the Cubs were going to pull away. They scored twice in the top of the fourth, first on a sacrifice fly by Addison Russell and later on a two-out double by Willson Contreras. Javy Baez led off the fifth with a solo home run which finally chased ace Corey Kluber from the game.
They tacked on one more off of reliever Cody Miller after Kris Bryant scored from first on an Anthony Rizzo single. The score was 5-1 Chicago after 4 1/2 innings, and that’s when things started to get wacky.
The Cubs pulled starter Kyle Hendricks with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, replacing him with Jon Lester after Hendricks walked Santana. David Ross came in to catch for Lester, and quickly made an impact—just not the kind he was hoping for. His first mistake came when Jason Kipnis hit a dribbler in front of home plate; Ross’s throw to first sailed into the crowd, allowing Santana and Kipnis to advance to second and third.
Francisco Lindor came up next, and Lester bounced a pitch off the dirt that rebounded off of Ross’s facemask. Ross fell backwards before running to retrieve the ball, and both runners came around to score on the wild pitch.
It was Ross’s final major league game, though, and he did all he could to redeem himself. He led off the next half-inning for the Cubs, and crushed a home run to dead center field to hand Chicago a 6-3 lead. It was his only at-bat of the game.
It looked as though that would be all the offense the Cubs needed, and Joe Maddon called on Aroldis Chapman to defend the three-run lead with two outs in the eighth.
However, after a season of dominance, Chapman struggled at the worst possible time. He inherited a runner on first from Lester; the baserunner scored when Brandon Guyer doubled him home. The next batter, Rajai Davis, finished off the rally with a flourish by pulling a homer to left that just missed hitting the FOX left-field camera. The game was tied at 6 heading into the ninth.
Neither team could muster a run, although the Cubs stranded Jason Heyward on third. Chapman was sent back out for the ninth and got Santana, Kipnis and Lindor to send the game to extras. It would be just the fifth World Series Game 7 ever to reach extra innings.
Before that could happen, though, the game became even more surreal. Just before midnight eastern time, a brief but powerful rainstorm pummeled the field. The umpires called for the tarp, and there was a 17-minute rain delay before play resumed.
The Indians ran out Bryan Shaw to start the tenth, and the Cubs went to work. Kyle Schwarber singled to lead off before being substituted for pinch runner Albert Almora. Bryant hit a sac fly and then Shaw intentionally walked Rizzo to set up a double play. Ben Zobrist had other ideas, smacking a double to left that scored Almora. Miguel Montero singled home Rizzo two batters later, and the Cubs took a 8-6 lead to the bottom of the tenth.
The game still had one last twist, though. With two outs Guyer walked and took second on defensive indifference. Davis poked a single to center that scored Guyer and put the winning run at the plate. But Michael Martinez could do nothing except chop a slow roller to Bryant at third, killing the rally and giving Chicago its first World Series since Wrigley Field was opened.
FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) November 3, 2016Ben Zobrist was named World Series MVP after he got the go-ahead RBI, and going 10-for-28 throughout the series. He is the first Cub ever to be named MVP of the World Series. It’s his second-straight championship, after he won last year with the Kansas City Royals.
The historic notes on the Cubs victory are too numerous to name. Millions of Cubs fans lived and died without seeing their hometown team win the Fall Classic. But now the drought is gone forever.
The Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.