It took seven games, extra innings and one rain delay, but when you’ve been waiting 108 years to win a championship, that’s just a flicker of time. The Chicago Cubs rallied back from a 3-1 hole to knock off the Cleveland Indians. And it was a World Series for the ages.
This year’s Fall Classic, featuring the two teams with the longest title droughts in Major League Baseball, instantly became a classic. Crescendoing with a 10 inning, rain delayed game seven in which both teams teetered back and forth.
The Cubs sent Cy Young candidate Kyle Hendricks to the hill for the deciding game. The Indians countered with their ace Corey Kluber. Their starts were polar opposites. As Hendricks pitched lights out ball for five innings, Kluber scuffled through four innings, surrendering four runs while pitching on short rest.
After bouncing Kluber from the game, the Cubs looked poised to seal the win handily, however Cleveland would not go quietly. Jon Lester was called upon to relieve Hendricks after he pitched into a jam. Lester’s wild pitch allowed two runs to score and bring the score to 5-3.
In his final game, David Ross homered to give more room to the Cubs. After a gutty performance, Miller handed the ball to closer Cody Allen. He deftly maneuvered through the Cubs lineup, allowing just one walk through two innings. Allen’s gem allowed the Indians to get back into the game.
Aroldis Chapman, who had thrown 62 pitches in the previous two games, came in to pitch for Chicago with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Chapman, obviously fatigued, surrendered three runs to allow Cleveland to tie the score. Rajai Davis golfed a home run down the left field line to electrify the Progressive Field crowd and tie the game.
The Indians headed into extra innings with all of the momentum. It appeared that Cubs fans would once again be saying, “Wait until next year.” Mother nature had other ideas however. Rain in Cleveland forced the game to be delayed for seventeen minutes.
In this time, Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward rallied his team together for a players only meeting in the visitors’ weight room.
“I just wanted them to remember how good they were, how good we are, know how proud of them I was and that I loved them,” Heyward said.
The Cubs emerged from the delay reenergized. In the top of the tenth inning scored two runs off of Bryan Shaw to take a commanding 8-6 lead. Ben Zobrist doubled with the bases loaded and Miguel Montero added an RBI single to plate the runs for the Cubbies.
With Chapman fully exhausted, Carl Edwards Jr. was tasked with closing the game. Quickly, he recorded two outs, but allowed Brandon Guyer to reach base, bringing Davis to the plate. Guyer took second on defensive indifference and Davis singled him home. Cubs skipper Joe Maddon took the ball from Edwards Jr. and brought in Mike Montgomery to record the final out. Montgomery induced a soft dribbler of the bat of Michael Martinez. For the first time since Theodore Roosevelt was president, the Chicago Cubs celebrated a championship.
Zobrist was named the World Series MVP for his drought-ending double.
“It was like a heavyweight fight, man,” Zobrist said following the epic game. “Just blow for blow, everybody playing their heart out.”
For the first time in 108 years, the party was on.