I don’t know what to say. The only words I have are THE CHICAGO CUBS ARE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!
No one has ever typed those words on the internet. No television announcer has ever said those words. No radio broadcaster has ever said those words. Telegraph operators just don’t feel that special anymore, do they?
The Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians tonight, 8-7 in ten innings to complete a comeback after trailing the series three games to one. The Cubs became the first team to come back in the World Series after trailing 3 games to 1 since the Royals did it in 1985. They’re the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit by winning the final two games on the road since the Pirates in 1979.
You all know how long it has been since the Cubs last won a World Series.
The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions. It still doesn’t feel real. And because it was the Cubs, they had to make us sweat before we could enjoy it.
Let me take a moment to say something about the Cleveland Indians. They had the Cubs on the ropes and deservedly so. If they had just one more healthy starting pitcher, the outcome might have been different. They looked like a team that ran out of gas and ran out of players. Manager Terry Francona got the most out of three starters and three relievers over three rounds of the playoffs. It just wasn’t enough. To the Indians fans, you were nothing but class this series. I hope one day soon that you get to experience the joy that we’re feeling right now. It will come. Don’t lose faith. We never did and we were rewarded. You will be too.
The Cubs got off to a great start when Indians starter Corey Kluber threw a fat two-seam fastball over the heart of the plate to leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler. Fowler deposited the ball over the center field fence. It was the first leadoff homer in a World Series game 7 ever.
The Indians struck back for a run in the bottom of the fifth to tie it up. Coco Crisp led off the inning with a double to left field and then after a sacrifice bunt sent him to third, Carlos Santana singled him home. It could have been worse after Javier Baez dropped a toss from Addison Russell later in the inning while trying to make a barehanded play. But Kyle Hendricks got Francisco Lindor hit a deep fly to left that landed in Ben Zobrist’s glove and then Kris Bryant caught a screamer off the bat of Mike Napoli.
The Cubs retook the lead in top of the fourth. Kris Bryant led off the inning with a single and then Anthony Rizzo got hit with a pitch. Zobrist hit a ground ball to Napoli at first. Napoli went for the 3-6-3 double play, but his throw was high and off the mark. Rizzo was out anyway (long story) but the Cubs now had runners on first and third with one out.
Here’s where the Cubs scouting department earned their World Series rings. Russell hit a shallow fly ball to center field. Rajai Davis caught it and third base coach Gary Jones didn’t hesitate to send Bryant from third. Davis threw high to the plate and Bryant easily slid under the tag. Zobrist went to second on the play and then scored the Cubs third run when Willson Contreras knocked one off the wall in right center.
Javier Baez made two errors in the first three innings of the game. He had some apologies to make, which means there was only one thing he could do. He led off the top of the fifth by clobbering a first-pitch slider to the right-centerfield seats. It was 4-1.
I’d like to say Progressive Field went quiet after Baez’s home run, but it didn’t. The Indians fans went quiet, but there were a huge number of Cubs fans in the park. It’s truly impressive how you, the Cubs family, got into Cleveland and made your presence known. I’ve never heard that many opposing fans cheering in a World Series game. Not even Yankees fans at Shea in 2000. Congratulations.
The Cubs got one more run in the fifth off of the suddenly-mortal Andrew Miller. Bryant walked with two outs and then was off with the pitch when Rizzo singled to right field. Once again, the Cubs took advantage of the Indians poor outfield defense and Bryant showed some great baserunning. He never stopped and Bryant made it all the way home from first on a single.
Hendricks lasted 4 2⁄3 innings until Joe Maddon pulled him after walking Santana. (And ball three was clearly strike three) But Maddon didn’t want Hendricks to face Jason Kipnis, so he called on Jon Lester in the pen as he said he was going to. Unfortunately, Kipnis got a slow dribbler that David Ross (who came in with Lester) made a bad throw to first base. That put runners on second and third when Lester bounced one that hit Ross in the mask for a wild pitch. Two runners scored and the Cubs lead was down to 5-3.
David Ross made up for the bad throw (the wild pitch wasn’t his fault) when he hit a 1-2 fastball by Miller over the center field wall. To go out in your last game by hitting a home run and winning the World Series, you can’t be any more storybook than that.
Ross was also the oldest man to ever homer in game 7 of the World Series.
Lester stayed in the game and pitched 3 innings. He gave up three hits, the final one being a ground ball by Jose Ramirez that Russell couldn’t handle at shortstop. With two out in the eighth inning, Maddon called on Aroldis Chapman. Chapman gave up an RBI double to former Cubs farmhand Brandon Guyer and brought the tying run to the plate in Davis.
Rajai Davis, of all people, hit a two-run home run to tie the game 6-6.
The Cubs got a threat in the top of the ninth. Jason Heyward reached on a fielder’s choice. He stole second and Indians catcher Yan Gomes bounced the ball into center field. Heyward was now on third with one out and Javier Baez up. But Baez had a 3-2 count and he tried to bunt. He bunted badly for a foul ball strike out. Next, Fowler hit a shot up the middle that Lindor made a great play on to throw out Fowler and preserve the tie.
Somehow, Chapman got through the bottom of the ninth with no runs scoring, but it was obvious he was gassed. He had almost abandoned his fastball (which was down to 97-98 mph) and was throwing mostly sliders. But he did retire the side without incident.
Then the rains came. It was all this game needed. Luckily, it was a short rain delay and Kyle Schwarber led off the top of the tenth with a single through the shift off of Bryan Shaw. Albert Almora Jr. pinch-ran for Schwarber and Bryant, the next batter up, just missed sending one out of the park. In all my scouting reports on Almora over the years, I’ve praised his baseball intelligence. He showed it to everyone here by tagging up on the play and making it to second with one out.
Shaw intentionally walked Rizzo to get to Zobrist. Zobrist doubled down the left field line to score Almora. Francona ordered the next batter, Russell, to be intentionally walked to get to Miguel Montero, who had entered the game in the bottom of the ninth. Montero singled to left field and the Cubs had an 8-6 lead.
On came Carl Edwards Jr. to pitch the bottom of the tenth. Just like we drew it up at the start of the season, right? Edwards struck out Napoli and got Jose Ramirez to ground out to shortstop. But then, with the title on the line, it looked like nerves got to the String Bean Slinger. He walked Guyer. Guyer took second on defensive indifference. Davis then got his third RBI of the game with a single to center field.
Mike Montgomery came on to close this game out. He had to face Michael Martinez, because Francona didn’t have any other hitters left on his bench. I’m sure that Martinez was probably the last guy on his roster he wanted hitting in that situation.
Montgomery got Martinez to hit a slow roller to Bryant at third. He threw to Rizzo. Ballgame. Season. Drought. The Cubs are the World Series Champions for the first time in 108 years.
My mind is such a jumble of emotions right now that I don’t know what to say. I was a Cubs fan in Wisconsin growing up—both the Cubs and the Brewers were on TV but the Cubs just spoke to me more. Also, they played day games. I got hooked by the illusionary greatness of the 1977 team. I remember walking to dinner in college in 1984 and being consoled by a girl I had a crush on. I remember watching Will Clark take apart the Cubs in a sports bar in St. Paul in 1989. I remember falling to my knees in Iowa when Neifi Perez hit that home run to force a one-game playoff in 1998. I remember being in California and sitting in my room in disbelief in 2003 after game 6. The timeline of my life can be told by the Cubs. I know that most of you have similar stories.
Some quick housekeeping: Al’s full recap will be up early tomorrow, around 7 a.m. Central. Also, Cub Tracks, which would normally run at that time, will be delayed until tomorrow afternoon so we can deal with all of this first.
Celebrate this. The Cubs will be back to the World Series again soon, but it won’t be the same. Ask a Red Sox fan. It will still be good, but it will never be this good again.
Fly the W all the way until April. The Cubs are the freaking World Series Champions.