Cubs Claim Long-Awaited World Series Title

Posted on November 14, 2016 by

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No matter the outcome of the 2016 World Series, it was sure to be historic. The combatants, the National League Champion Chicago Cubs and the American League Champion Cleveland Indians, had gone a combined 172 years without winning a World Series. The Cubs had last won in 1908, and the Indians had last won in 1948. On top of that, Chicago had not reached the World Series at all since 1945. After years of waiting, one of these teams would finally end years of disappointment.  The Indians were also looking to bring another championship to the city of Cleveland after the Cavaliers captured the NBA championship in June.

Game one featured a marquee pitching matchup featuring former American League Cy Young winner Cory Kluber for Cleveland and Cubs veteran ace Jon Lester. Both are finalists for their respective leagues’ Cy Young awards this year. Kluber dominated at the outset, striking out eight of the first nine batters. The Indians scored twice in the first, and added another on a home run by Roberto Perez in the third. Kluber continued to dominate with the lead, pitching six shutout innings. American League Championship Series MVP Andrew Miller came on to pitch the seventh. Miller had dominated through the first two rounds of the playoffs but struggled at the outset. He loaded the bases, bringing the go ahead run to the plate but struck out Cubs catcher David Ross to end the threat and preserve the lead. In the bottom of the eighth, Perez came to bat again and delivered a 3-run homer for his second of the game to extend the Tribe’s lead to 6-0, which they would not relinquish in taking a 1-0 series lead.

In game two, it was Chicago’s Jake Arrieta, another former Cy Young winner, who had the upper hand. Despite early control issues, he took a no hitter into the sixth inning. He was aided by an Anthony Rizzo RBI double in the first inning and two RBI singles by the comeback kid Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber played just five regular season games in April before an outfield collision left him with multiple ligament tears in his knee. He was somehow able to recover in time to play in the World Series. The Cubs lead totaled five runs after four innings of play. In the bottom of the sixth, Arrieta lost his no hitter on a Jason Kipnis double. Kipnis would later score, giving the Indians their first run and spelling the end of the night for Arrieta. Mike Montgomery was brought in and ended the inning without further trouble. From that point on, both bullpens kept zeroes on the board, as the Cubs walked away with a 5-1 win and the series even at one game apiece.

When the series moved to Chicago for game three, 102-year-old Wrigley Field would host its first World Series game in 71 years. This game featured a pitcher’s duel between Kyle Hendricks, the NL ERA leader and a finalist for the Cy Young award, as well as Josh Tomlin, who was on a hot streak and was the center of one of the more heartwarming stories of the postseason. His father had been paralyzed from the waist down in August, and when an anonymous fan heard about this, he paid for him and Tomlin’s mother to be flown to Chicago to watch their son pitch. He did not disappoint. Tomlin tossed almost five  scoreless innings before being lifted early. In the top of the fifth, the usually steady Hendricks was shaken. He allowed the Indians to load the bases with one out before Cubs manager Joe Maddon made the bold move to lift one of the league’s best pitchers. Justin Grimm came in from the bullpen and promptly made Maddon look like a genius. He allowed his first batter, star shortstop Francisco Lindor, to hit into an inning ending double play to keep the game tied at zero. That would change in the seventh. With Tyler Naquin on base, Coco Crisp pinch hit, delivering an RBI single for what turned out to be the game’s only run. Cleveland would hold on and claim a 2-1 series lead with the 1-0 win.

The Cubs would strike first in game four, when Anthony Rizzo followed Dexter Fowler’s leadoff double with a knock of his own to score Fowler and give the Cubs a first inning lead. The very next inning, Cleveland’s Carlos Santana responded by rocking a solo homer to tie the game. With two outs, Lonnie Chisenhall reached on an error, the pitcher Kluber reached on an infield single, and an error on the play allowed Chisenhall to score and the Indians to take the lead. Francisco Lindor added another for Cleveland in the third, and Kluber continued to pitch as well as he had all postseason, lowering his playoff ERA to 0.89 while pitching six innings and giving up just one run. With the score at 4-1 in the seventh, Jason Kipnis, who grew up a Cubs fan living near Chicago, hit a three-run home run to extend the Tribe’s lead to 7-1. The Indians would win, 7-2, and take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

The potential for an Indians clinch loomed over game five, and Jose Ramirez aided the cause early with a second inning home run. Cleveland’s enigmatic righthander Trevor Bauer was able to hold serve early on but ran into trouble in the fourth. Chicago’s NL MVP candidate Kris Bryant started the scoring with a solo homerun to tie the game, and was followed by hits from Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Javier Baez, and a sacrifice fly by Ross to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead. The Tribe earned one back in the sixth, but could muster no more. They did threaten in the seventh, but Maddon called on his flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman to stop it. He did so, and finished the game for an eight-out save and a 3-2 win as the series returned to Cleveland for game six.

Despite the Cubs’ game five win, they still had their backs against the wall in game six. However, they came out swinging in the first, as Bryant homered again and Zobrist and Russell contributed RBI doubles to give the Cubs a 3-0 lead before Cleveland had a chance to swing the bats. Josh Tomlin, who started for the Indians, struggled again in the third, loading the bases for giving way to Dan Otero. Otero faced Russell, who promptly launched a grand slam for a 7-0 Cubs lead. Despite giving up two runs, Arrieta pitched more than well enough for his second win of the series, and Chicago won, 9-3, to force a winner take all game seven.

Game sevens, by nature, are exciting. The circumstances surrounding this particular game seven made it even more intriguing. However, what transpired at Progressive Field in Cleveland in the late night and early morning of 2-3 November  turned this game into an instant classic. The action started immediately, as the Cubs’ Dexter Fowler led off the game with a home run to give Chicago the lead. However, the Indians struck back in the third, when Santana singled in Coco Crisp to tie it. The Tribe continued to push the envelope against Cubs’ starter Hendricks but stranded two runners on base to keep the game tied. Chicago responded quickly against Corey Kluber, taking advantage of Indian’s defensive miscues to set up a sacrifice fly by Addison Russell and an RBI double by Willson Contreras to make it 3-1. The Cubs made it 5-1 in the fifth on the strength of Javier Baez’s home run and Anthony Rizzo’s RBI double. The back-and-forth scoring continued in the bottom of the fifth, when, with two outs, Lonnie Chisenhall walked and Jason Kipnis reached on an error, and both scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-3. Cubs catcher David Ross responded in the sixth, smashing a solo home run in his final major league game before retirement.The game then calmed for the time being, until Aroldis Chapman was brought in with a runner on base and two outs in the eighth. Brandon Guyer greeted Chapman with a double to pull Cleveland within two. Next up was Rajai Davis, who delivered a moment Indians fans will not soon forget, lining a Chapman pitch over the wall in left to tie the game at six all. The game would stay tied through the end of the ninth, sending the game into extra innings. However, the game was halted by a seventeen-minute rain delay, further heightening the tension as both teams waited to retake the field. As soon as they did in the top of the tenth, the Cubs started a rally off Bryan Shaw, and then Ben Zobrist gave the Cubs the lead with an RBI double that will go down in Chicago Cubs lore. Miguel Montero added another with an RBI single before Trevor Bauer came on to work out the jam. Rookie Carl Edwards was brought in to pitch the bottom of the tenth, but allowed one runner to reach with two outs before Davis came up again and delivered an RBI single to pull Cleveland within one. The struggling Edwards was replaced by Mike Montgomery, who got Michael Martinez to ground out, ending the game and clinching the Cubs’ first World Series since 1908.

Ben Zobrist was named Series MVP after hitting .357 and driving in the crucial go ahead run in Game seven.

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