The Chicago Cubs’ 108-year World Series championship drought ended Wednesday night with the North Siders’ 8-7 win over the Cleveland Indians in 10 innings.
Lovable Losers no more, the Cubs were down 3-games-to-1 in the series and one loss away from elimination before taking three straight games to deny Cleveland its first baseball crown since 1948.
The Cubs let a three-run lead disappear in the bottom of the eighth inning, before scoring two runs in the 10th and then stopping one final Indians rally.
With the game knotted 6-6 going to extras after a brief rain delay, Kyle Schwarber singled to right to get things started for the Cubs. Albert Almora Jr. came in to pinch run, and he got to second tagging up on a fly ball to the warning track in center field. After Indians reliever Bryan Shaw intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist doubled to bring Almora home and reclaim the lead. Two batters later, a single by Miguel Montero added an insurance run.
The Cubs would need that extra run. In the bottom of the 10th, Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Mike Napoli and got Jose Ramirez to ground out to short. But then Edwards walked Brandon Guyer, who advanced to second on defensive indifference, and gave up a hit to center that cut the lead to one and put the tying run on base.
Manager Joe Maddon brought in Mike Montgomery to face Michael Martinez. Martinez, a defensive substitution for outfielder Coco Crisp during the previous inning, hit a soft grounder that forced Bryant to make a hurried play. The Cubs’ third baseman stumbled making the throw, but the ball reached Rizzo’s glove in time to record the final out and the baseball club from the North Side of Chicago at long last had its third World Series championship.
Before the rain delay, it looked like the Cubs might be headed toward another heartbreaking ending.
With two outs and a runner on first in the eighth, Maddon summoned closer Aroldis Chapman needing four outs to preserve a 6-3 lead. The normally unhittable Chapman didn’t have his best stuff in Game 7, however, after throwing 60-plus pitches to help the Cubs stave off elimination in games 5 and 6. Brandon Guyer doubled a 3-2 pitch, scoring Jose Ramirez, and Rajai Davis tied the game with a two-run home run.
Momentum briefly shifted their way, but the Indians never held a lead and they were playing catchup most of the night.
The Cubs went up in the first inning on a lead-off home run by Dexter Fowler off starting pitcher Corey Kluber.
The Indians tied it in the third, but failed to take advantage of a chance to go ahead. Crisp hit a lead-off double down the left field line and Roberto Perez moved him over with a sacrifice bunt. Carlos Santana’s RBI single to right made the score 1-1. A botched double play on Javier Baez’s second error of the game gave Cleveland runners on first and second, but Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks got Francisco Lindor to fly out and a hard liner by Mike Napoli was caught by Bryant for the third out.
Defensive lapses bit the Indians in the top of the fourth. With two on and no outs, Zobrist grounded to first and Napoli threw to second to force out Rizzo, but the throw was high, killing any chance for a double play. A high throw home by Davis on a sacrifice fly by Addison Russell allowed Bryant to slide under the tag at home for the go-ahead run. Davis then misjudged a deep fly ball by Willson Contreras and it sailed over the center fielder’s head for a run-scoring double.
Baez homered to lead off the fifth, making it 4-1 Cubs and Andrew Miller was brought in to relieve Kluber. Kluber was charged with four earned runs on six hits. He wasn’t nearly as effective as he was in his Game 1 and Game 4 wins. Neither was Miller, who had a postseason ERA of 0.53 going into Game 7.
Miller gave up a single to Fowler that was nullified when Schwarber grounded into a double play. But then a borderline 3-2 pitch was called ball four, putting aboard Bryant, who would score from first on a hit to right by Rizzo.
For the Cubs, Hendricks allowed one earned run on four hits and a walk before he was relieved after giving up a walk to Santana with two outs in the fifth.
The Cubs used Game 1 and Game 4 starting pitcher Jon Lester for three innings of relief work. The first batter he faced, Jason Kipnis, reached on a throwing error by catcher David Ross. Santana went to third and Kipnis to second. Lester then threw a wild pitch in the dirt that bounced and ricocheted off Ross’ mask far enough to allow both runners to score.
Ross made amends for the throwing error in the sixth. The 39-year-old catcher, who is retiring after the World Series, hit a solo home run to give the Cubs a three-run lead.
Lester looked much more comfortable in the sixth and seventh, allowing a walk and a single, but no runs. In the eighth, he got a groundout by Lindor and struck out Napoli looking. Ramirez singled off Addison Russell’s glove, prompting Maddon to go to Chapman.
Chapman pitched 1 1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits, and striking out two. He picked up both the blown save and the win. Montgomery was award the save for recording the final out.
Shaw took the loss for the Indians.
Zobrist was named the World Series’ most valuable player. He drove in the go-ahead run the 10th inning and went 10-for-28 (.357) against the Indians with three walks, two doubles and a triple.
This was the Cubs’ first trip to the World Series since 1945, when they lost in seven games to the Detroit Tigers. The club won the Series in 1907 and 1908.
The Indians’ last trip to the World Series also ended in disappointment for Cleveland in extra innings of a seven-game series. The Indians led Game 7 of the 1997 World Series by a score of 2-1 until the Florida Marlins tied it in the bottom of the ninth and won in 11 innings. The Indians won the American League pennant in 1995, but lost the World Series to the Atlanta Braves, 4-2. The Indians last won the World Series in 1948, when they beat the Boston Braves, 4-2.
World Series notes:
- This was the 37th time the World Series went down to a winner-take-all game since the modern World Series was first played in 1903, according to Baseball-Reference.com. All but one of those was a seven-game series. In 1912, the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Giants four games to three, but eight games were played because Game 2 was called a tie after 11 innings because of darkness.
- Just a couple weeks after his surgically repaired knee was deemed healed enough for him to serve as DH, Schwarber beat out an infield single and stole second in the first inning. In the third inning he tried to stretch a hit to left into a double, but was thrown out easily by Lonnie Chisenhall.