This year’s World Series set up to give a long-suffering fan base its first championship in generations. Either the Cubs would have won their first World Series title since 1908 or the Indians would have accomplished the feat for the time since 1948. The Indians had more rest going into the series, having beaten the Blue Jays in five games in the ALCS, but the Cubs had the best record in the majors this season and appeared to have the best overall team heading into the Fall Classic, particularly with getting Kyle Schwarber back for the first time since April to perform DH duties in Cleveland and pinch hit in Chicago.
After taking a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, the Indians looked like they would be able to cruise to the title, especially with two of the final three games at their home park, Progressive Field. The Cubs’ bats finally came alive, though, in Games 5 and 6 to give the Cubs two in a row and force the decisive Game 7 with the Cubs sending presumed NL Cy Young winner SP Kyle Hendricks to the mound and the Indians using their ace, SP Corey Kluber, who was making his third start of the series and second straight on short rest.
The Cubs got off to a quick lead in Game 7, with OF Dexter Fowler hitting a leadoff home run — the first ever in a World Series Game 7 — to put the Cubs on the board first.
The Indians tied it with a Carlos Santana RBI single in the bottom of the third. The Cubs retook the lead in the fourth, with a two-run inning thanks to RBIs by SS Addison Russell and C Willson Contreras. They added to the lead in the next inning with a solo home run by 2B Javier Baez and 1B Anthony Rizzo‘s RBI single. Then in the bottom of the fifth, the Indians cut the lead in half by scoring two runs on a wild pitch by P Jon Lester, who came into the game after 4.2 innings from Hendricks. C David Ross, who entered the game with Lester and his playing in the final game of his career, hit a solo home run in the sixth inning to make it a 6-3 game. After Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman entered the game with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, OF Brandon Guyer hit a RBI double to make it a 6-4 game. It became a whole new ballgame one batter later when OF Rajai Davis smashed a two-run shot to left field, the first postseason home run of his career, to tie the game at 6-6.
Hendricks pitched well but was pulled by manager Joe Maddon after 4.2 innings, four hits, two runs (one earned), a walk and two strikeouts. Lester had a strong performance in his first relief outing since the 2007 ALCS as a member of the Red Sox; he went 3+ innings, allowing three hits and an unearned run while walking one and striking out four. Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, who threw 62 pitches in the previous two games, gave up the three-run lead he had inherited and failed to get the four-out save. He did get through the ninth inning, though, to force extra innings.
On the Indians side, Kluber went four innings for the Tribe, giving up four earned runs on six hits with no walks or strikeouts. RP Andrew Miller, who has been the key to the team’s bullpen throughout the postseason, allowed two earned runs on four hits in 2.1 innings; he walked one and struck out one. RP Cody Allen, the team’s closer, came in next and went two innings, before giving way to RP Bryan Shaw, who came into the game with one out and a runner on first in the top of the ninth. He got through the inning without the runner scoring that’s to an acrobatic play by SS Francisco Lindor to end the inning and leave OF Jason Heyward stranded at third.
After a 17-minute rain delay, extra innings began with a leadoff single by Schwarber off of Shaw. Three batters and one out later, OF Ben Zobrist gave the Cubs the lead again when he drove in Schwarber with a RBI double that set up runners on second and third with one out. C Miguel Montero then scored Rizzo with a base hit up the middle that made it 8-6 and loaded the bases. The Montero hit also ended Shaw’s night, as Indians manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen to bring in P Trevor Bauer, who hasn’t had a good postseason but got the two outs he needed to get to keep the bases loaded and keep it a 8-6 game heading into the bottom of the 10th.
With Chapman done for the night, the responsibility of getting the final three outs of the game fell to RP Carl Edwards Jr. After striking out 1B Mike Napoli to start the inning, he got 3B Jose Ramirez to ground out to Russell at short. That left Guyer as the Indians’ last hope to extend the game. He did just that by drawing a walk, which brought Davis to the plate to try to do what he did in the eighth and tie it with a two-run home run. Davis couldn’t duplicate that feat, but he did make it 8-7 by driving in Guyer with a RBI single. That was it for Edwards’ night as RP Mike Montgomery came in from the bullpen to try to get the final out. He got the job done, inducing a groundout to 3B Kris Bryant by OF Michael MartinezMichael Martinez.
Although Chapman was charged with a blown save, he ends up earning the win as the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years. Montgomery earned the save, and Shaw was tagged for the loss. Zobrist was named World Series MVP. And there will be celebrations going on in Wrigleyville all night long as the longest championship drought in U.S. pro sports history has officially ended with the Cubs’ first championship in more than a century. Fitting that their fans had to wait through a rain delay and an exta inning before being able to celebrate.
It was quite a season for the Cubs, ending with something that some people thought might never happen again. Now the question becomes how long will it be until the Cubs win it all again? Can they repeat in 2017?