by Michael Jarosz
After 108 years, it’s finally happened. The Chicago Cubs are world champions. On Wednesday, November 2, they defeated the Cleveland Indians in a thrilling Game 7 victory that lasted ten innings, winning 8-7.
“It could not have been a more entertaining, difficult series to win,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. With Chicago facing Indians’ starter Corey Kluber for the third time in the series, they had to get going right out of the gate. Cubs’ center fielder Dexter Fowler went ahead and opened things up for his club with a leadoff homerun, the first in any World Series Game 7. With a 1-0 lead, Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks cruised through the first two innings, trying to give his team their first title. However, he ran into a bump in the third inning, letting off a leadoff double to Coco Crisp. After a sacrifice bunt moved him to third, Crisp scored on an RBI single by Carlos Santana, knotting the score at one.
The Cubs fought back in the fourth however, putting runners on the corners with one out. Shortstop Addison Russell then popped a fly ball to center that was deep enough for Kris Bryant to score, making it 2-1. Afterwards, catcher Wilson Contreras smashed a double to right center to score Ben Zobrist and extend the lead to 3-1. They produced more runs in the fifth on a Javier Baez homerun that took Kluber out of the game and an Anthony Rizzo RBI single off of Andrew Miller, leading 5-1 into the bottom of the inning.
After getting the first two outs, Hendricks was lifted upon walking Santana. Game 5 starter Jon Lester took the mound and ended up letting Jason Kipnis reach base on an infield single, which turned into an error as new catcher David Ross threw the ball wildly to first in an attempt to get the out. With Indians’ switch-hitting shortstop Francisco Lindor batting, Lester then threw a wild pitch, allowing both Santana and Kipnis to score and make it 5-3.
Ross quickly made up for his misplay by homering to center off of Miller in the sixth, making it 6-3. The score remained the same until the bottom of the eighth, where Lester was lifted in favor of flamethrower closer Aroldis Chapman with two outs and a runner on first. However, Chapman struggled mightily as he let off an RBI double to Brandon Guyer to make it 6-4, setting the stage for Indians’ center fielder Rajai Davis to hit a game-tying two-run homer to knot the score at six. Chapman worked his way out of the inning and proceeded to pitch through the ninth in order to keep his team alive, sending them to extra innings.
After a 17 minute rain delay, play resumed in the tenth inning, starting with a leadoff base hit from Cubs’ designated hitter Kyle Schwarber. He was lifted for a pinch runner, who got to second on a sacrifice before Indians’ reliever Bryan Shaw elected to intentionally walk Rizzo. With two on and one out, Zobrist came up and roped an RBI double down the left field line, scoring Albert Almora Jr. to make it 7-6. Pinch-hitter Miguel Montero then came up and shot an RBI single to left, scoring Rizzo to extend the extra inning lead to 8-6.
With the Cubs three outs away, they turned to reliever Carl Edwards Jr. to close things out. However, after he managed to get the first two outs, he walked Guyer, who advanced to second on defensive indifference and proceeded to score on an RBI single from Davis, making it 8-7. Not taking any chances, Maddon decided to switch out Edwards for Mike Montgomery to face Michael Martinez, who promptly grounded out to third base after two pitches, thus ending the series and curse for the Cubs.
“It’s unbelievable,” Zobrist said as he won the World Series MVP trophy. “I can’t even put it into words. What this team has battled through all year long, believing we’re the best team, but the ups and the downs and having to fight through things. … It’s an unbelievable team to be a part of.”