Context, as always, is important to understand why I’ve ranked this the third-greatest home run in Cubs history.
The Cubs and Indians split the first two games of the World Series in Cleveland. It’s always been sort of understood that most teams without home-field advantage simply want such a split, to take back “home field” — in this case, the Cubs could have won the series by sweeping the three games at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs offense had clicked early in Game 2, taking a 5-0 lead by the fifth. But then — nothing. They had just one hit and three walks over the last four innings, but Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman held Cleveland down for a 5-1 win.
Coming back to Wrigley, everyone from fans to gameday workers to players was energized. And then...
The Cubs got shut out 1-0 on five hits in Game 3. That’s now 13 straight scoreless innings. This is starting to look like the NLCS.
The Cubs broke the scoreless streak in the first inning of Game 4 when Dexter Fowler led off with a double and Anthony Rizzo drove him in. But the Tribe pounded John Lackey, Mike Montgomery, Justin Grimm and Travis Wood for seven runs between the second and seventh and all the Cubs could manage was a consolation run in the eighth of a 7-2 loss.
So it’s the proverbial backs-to-the-wall time. Down three games to one. Having scored just three runs in their last 22 innings. Only one more home game.
Game 5 didn’t start out well, either. Cleveland pushed across a run in the first off Jon Lester. The Cubs had just one hit through three innings. If you’re keeping score — and I was — that’s now three runs in 25 innings, for a team that blasted through the regular season. Just six innings separated the Indians from their first World Series title in 68 years.
Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer made the call for Cubs fans on The Score, but it’s Joe Buck’s note that I want you to pay attention to, just a few seconds from the end of the video. He said, “This place is shaking.” And it was. It wasn’t quite as loud as Miguel Montero’s grand slam in NLCS Game 1, but enough to wake up the fans. And the gameday staff. And the players, because Rizzo followed that with a double and Ben Zobrist singled him to third. An Addison Russell single gave the Cubs the lead, and two batters later David Ross hit a fly to left to make it 3-1.
The Indians pulled to within 3-2 on an RBI single by Francisco Lindor in the sixth and Joe Maddon called on Carl Edwards Jr. in the seventh. CJ was not good. He allowed a single to Mike Napoli, who took second on a passed ball. After Edwards recorded the first out, Joe had seen enough. He called on Aroldis Chapman for an eight-out save.
Now, you can second-guess this one all you want. But the fact is, there is no Game 6 or Game 7 if the Cubs don’t win Game 5. Joe didn’t really trust anyone but Chapman by this point, and although he hit Brandon Guyer with a pitch later in that inning, he got out of the seventh. Chapman allowed a one-out single to Rajai Davis, who later stole second AND third base. But the inning ended on a called strike to Lindor.
The Cubs didn’t score in the eighth, and Chapman got the first two outs on a ground ball and fly ball.
Then this happened [VIDEO], again with Pat Hughes’ radio call.
The Cubs won the game 3-2, but they don’t get there without KB’s home run that just barely made the first row of the bleachers. And without that, maybe we’re still talking about a World Series drought.
Of such things legends are made.