We never thought that this day would come… but it’s finally here.
The Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.
For the first time since 1908, the Cubs hoisted up the World Series trophy after defeating the Cleveland Indians in an epic Game Seven by a score of 8-7 in 10 innings.
In a series of contrasting ups and downs for each team, the Cubs found their spark at the exact time that they needed it during the series. Down 3-1 in the series, the Cubs found their offensive magic, never more apparent than in Game Seven.
It started out with a bang. Leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler hit a home run just over the center field wall and past the out- stretched glove of Rajai Davis, who would have a big home run himself later in the game. This leadoff bomb set the tone for the Cubs coming up huge in important times in the game.
After exchanging runs back and forth with the Indians, the Cubs scored four runs between the fourth and fifth innings to give them a 5-1 cushion. Even with starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks throwing well, only giving up one earned run in four and two-thirds innings of work, he was taken out in the fifth inning to not bring in a reliever, but starter Jon Lester.
The Lester move was one of many questionable pitching decisions displayed by Manager Joe Maddon in the World Series. Lester is used to starting and more importantly, he has trouble throwing with runners on base due to his inability to pick off at first. This gives the Indians, who have good team speed, the ability to run at will and get runners in scoring position.
What also hurts Lester is his inability to play his position well which would come to hurt him this game. After coming into the game, Lester faced left handed hitter Jason Kipnis who would hit a 25 foot dribbler down the third base line. With Lester’s iffy defense off the mound, it forced 39 year old catcher David Ross to have to make an acrobatic spin and throw to first, where he ended up throwing it away allowing runners to advance to second and third.
The following at- bat, Lester threw a wild pitch into the ground that bounced past Ross, allowing both runners to score and the Indians to close the lead to 5-3. After that debacle, Lester would settle down to throw three innings, giving up those two runs and striking out four batters.
When Lester found himself in trouble again in the eighth innings with two outs, Maddon brought in his big arm in Aroldis Chapman who was highly fatigued.
Before entering Game 7 in the eight, Chapman had already pitched a lot in this series. He had thrown five innings, which is a lot for a closer in any series. He had started to wane as the series went on, still throwing hard, but not his usual 105 mph that blew away hitters at will. With the repeated appearances and innings, the Indians hitters had gotten their timing down against his fastball and this showed itself in Game Seven.
Chapman pitched 1 and one-third innings in the deciding game, but his fastball had dipped down to 98 mph and made him resort to his secondary pitch, the slider. The Indians capitalized on his tired arm. Rajai Davis stepped up to the plate with two outs in the eighth inning and delivered the big moment for the Indians by smacking a two- run home run over the left field wall to tie the game up at 5 runs apiece and sending Cleveland into an uproar. Chapman had gone on to finish that inning and pitched a scoreless ninth inning before a rain delay hit Progressive Field, forcing Maddon to refrain from bringing Chapman back out.
After the rain delay, the 10th inning was where the Cubs performed their final magic trick of the season and had the greatest inning in franchise history.
Designated hitter and phenomenon Kyle Schwarber started off the inning beating out a throw for an infield single. Schwarber was then pinch- ran for by Albert Almora. After a long flyout by Kris Bryant, who had homered earlier in the game, Almora advances to second base by tagging up. Anthony Rizzo is intentionally walk in the next at-bat to set up a double play and bring up the Illinois born and 2015 World Series champion Ben Zobrist, who would deliver the most magic moment in Cubs history.
With one swing of the bat, Zobrist perfectly stayed inside the baseball, hammering a RBI double down the third base line past Jose Ramirez to put the Cubs ahead by one run and sending Cubs fans everywhere into a frenzy.
With runners on second and third now, Addison Russell was walked to set up the double play once again and bring up Miguel Montero. Montero then singled to left field scoring Anthony Rizzo from third and building a two run lead. The next two Cubs batters would provide the last two outs of the inning with a Jason Heyward strikeout and a Javier Baez flyout.
The Cubs were now three outs away from immortality. Due up for the Indians were the meat of their lineup: Mike Napoli, Jose Ramirez, and Brandon Guyer.
Carl Edwards, Jr. started the inning for the Cubs and struck out Mike Napoli for the first of the three outs. He then got Jose Ramirez, who had been the Indians hottest hitter, to ground out, to move them one out away from history. The next batter, Brandon Guyer walks to bring up eight inning hero Rajai Davis. Davis comes up big again and singles off of Edwards to bring home Guyer and cut the Cubs lead to 8-7.
Joe Maddon then replaces Edwards with left hander Mike Montgomery to close the game out, facing Mike Martinez. In memorable fashion, Montgomery throws a pitch and Martinez grounds it softly to third base. Kris Bryant, who was playing in, fields the ball with a huge smile on his face, and throws a strike to Anthony Rizzo, who catches it, throws his hands in the air, and puts the ball in his back pocket.
For the first time in 108 years, the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.
The curse of the Billy Goat is no more.
Are you surprised that you got to see the Cubs win a World Series? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.