In the early hours of Thursday Morning at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio it saw one of the most memorable and action packed Game sevens in recent World Series history finally coming to end, with the Chicago Cubs finally ending their 108-year wait for a title to win 8-7 in a heart-stopping game over the Cleveland Indians to be crowned World Series Champions for 2016. It saw the rare occasion of a World Series pitting two sides that wasn’t best known for their championship winning exploits in recent times with the Cubs and Indians. But the series more than made up for it with a thoroughly entertaining series that was full of twists and turns and needed a 10th innings to determine a winner in an epic series decider.
In the end it saw Chicago turning a page in their somewhat tumultuous storied Franchises history and have the team from the ‘North Side’ of the Windy City, prevailing after 108 years without a success. In truth the series should have been wrapped up far earlier by the Cleveland, with the Ohio outfit looking back and wondering how on earth they didn’t put the series to bed. With the Indians having taken a 3-2 series lead back with them from Chicago on Sunday night, it was almost nailed on that Cleveland would close out the series on their home turf, with the final two games being played out of Cleveland.
However the Cubbies who have shown plenty of grit and adopted a ‘never say die’ attitude to their play in this post season and also the regular season. The Cubs shown their battling qualities going from a game down against the LA Dodgers in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) to then coming back and reaching the World Series. After the Chicago staved off elimination in Game six with a 9-3 win to tie the series after winning two successive games on the bounce, it saw the series heading to an exciting game seven.
This was no ordinary Game 7 to a World Series, as for both these franchises it gave a chance to end their own personal droughts in Baseball and also in American Sports period. Once the game got under way it saw Dexter Fowler putting Chicago in front with a an opening home-run off Indians pitcher Corey Kluber in the opening innings to put the Cubs ahead in the ball game. Cleveland tied the game up in the bottom of the third through a Carlos Santana hit down the line, that allowed Coco Crisp to make it back for home and make it a 1-1 game.
Top of the fourth saw the Cubs going back in front again through a Kris Bryant score, with the Third Baseman sliding under the catcher to touch base and move 2-1 in front. Willson Contreras then struck a double with long fly ball that bounced off the far wall and that saw Ben Zobrist make it from third-base to give Chicago a 3-1 lead and put them firmly in the driving seat.
With the Indians not scoring in their first four innings, things only got worse for the home side as the game moved to the fifth, after Javier Baez then homered to extend their lead even further for the Cubs and go 4-1 up. Cleveland management then took Corey Kluber out of the firing line and replaced him with pitcher Andrew Miller, after Kluber had restricted the opponents to just one run in two games he had pitched in during the series. This brought the Cleveland management to mound and made the change as they wanted to try to stem the flow of runs that the Cubs were scoring at will.
Shortly after the change, it saw Anthony Rizzo drilling a ball into right field and that allowed Kris Bryant to make his way from first base all the way home for another run and that put Chicago 5-1 up now at the top of the fifth. The home team then caught a lucky break their way when Jon Lester threw a wild pitch that bounced off the dirt and struck David Ross on the face cage of his helmet and ran away and that led to Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis both pick up runs for the Indians, to make it a 5-3 game and give the hosts a bit of hope.
In the next innings it saw Ross who was part of the incident that gave up two-runs for Cleveland then redeeming himself, as he struck a home run to make it a 6-3 and was a perfect way to end his career on in what was his final ever play. With Jose Ramirez scoring for the Indians after a Brandon Guyer line drive to make it a closer game at 6-4, it then saw the moment that turned the game on its head.
With Aroldis Chapman then brought on by Cubs Manager Jon Maddon to close the game out, Rajai Davis then made sure that was not going to be the case and smashed a homer left field and just strayed inside the outfield to make it all-square ball at 6-6. That moment could have possibly saw Chicago seeing their moment of triumph disappear at the point and maybe to triumph at all. Cleveland seemed to have staggered their opponent who for the most of the game looked to be on course for their first World Series success in 108 years, but now found themselves having to dig deep and show their grit once again in an even game.
After a scoreless 9th for both teams it meant now that this World Series decider would be heading to extra innings to determine a winner in this topsy-turvy series. With both clubs having gone so long without a championship to speak off, it did seem like at times that the pressure or inability on both sides to seal victory was affecting both sides and seemed to be theme in the last three games of the series.
With the drama that was ongoing on the field and the tension being knock up a few notches, there was yet more drama added as the heavens opened up prior to the 10th innings and caused a rain delay that lasted nearly 20 minutes and saw the ball game going past midnight. Both teams headed to their respective locker rooms and had the coaches chatting amongst themselves with the umpires on the weather.
When play did restart it had Ben Zobrist nailing a ground ball double down the left line of the field and just evaded the third baseman to let in Albert Almora and he made it 7-6 to the Cubs and moved Anthony Rizzo onto third. The looks of joy and celebrations from Zobrist and Rizzio told their own stories, and had the Cubs seemingly edging nearer to glory and gaining momentum back their way now. Miguel Montero then struck a single which saw Rizzio touching back for base and opening up a two run lead for Chicago, as the Cubs dugout came out to urge him home and celebrate a 8-6 lead after the tenth.
Cleveland knew the score now going into the bottom of the innings, anything less than two runs for the Indians and the title went Midwest. Cubs Manager Jon Maddon then made a pitching change before the innings got underway and put in Carl Edwards Jr for the outgoing Aroldis Chapman with the Cubbies looking to seal the game and take the series.
Mike Napoli struckout and saw the first out going down for the home side and when Jose Ramirez followed soon after with Addison Russell throwing to first base for Anthony Rizzo to run him out, it seemed that it was all over bar the shouting. Brandon Guyer then got walked to first base and saw Cleveland’s last bit of defiance come, when Rajai Davis hit a ball down center field and was collected by Dexter Fowler to which allowed Guyer to get back home and see it become a one run game at 8-7.
Chicago then had another little conference at the mound and that saw sprung another change as Mike Montgomery came in to the ball game for Edwards Jr. Montgomery with his first pitch to Michael Martinez saw a strike and then his second pitch brought an end to proceedings and series for that matter, as Martienz hit a ground ball that saw Kris Bryant running to collect it and had Anthony Rizzo getting the last out and confirmed the Chicago Cubs as World Series winners.
The winning out sparked wild celebrations on the field among the Cubs players and management and also in the stands with a large contingent of fans that had made the way from Chicago to be there. It was a series that by many pundits was to be a case of the Cubs having too much for the Indians overall and that the bullpen and big hitters that Chicago had would be the telling factor. Arguably the Cubs turned the series in their favour last Sunday and was the key game of the series in Game 5 at Wrigley Field, as prior to that meeting the home side had only won once in the opening four games of the series to that point and the 3-2 win for Chicago gave them a massive boost as they headed to Cleveland.
It did have the series being mainly one for the away team over the course of the series, with the home side winning just two out the seven games in the series and none were more vital than that elimination game on Sunday night at Wrigley Field. Had Cleveland shut down the Cubs in the 4th innings of that Game five and not allowed the three runs they conceded, then perhaps we may well have looked at the series being done and dusted in Chicago.
There is one side note to this series and one that i just touched on above, it was the fact that home advantage normally is vital for teams in the post season and for this particular series it seemed to less of a blessing and more of a curse. So in some ways the home crowd did prove to be a bit of a factor overall but not necessarily in a good way at all. For the two ball clubs it felt more like they were more relaxed on the road than they were at Progessive Field or Wrigleyville in front of their own fans.
You could make a case that pressure got to Cleveland or that they just became complacent with their 3-1 lead when heading home for Games 6 and 7. But despite the Indians slipping up in the series, Manager Terry Francona should be applauded for taking his side to the club first World Series in 19 years after their last appearance back in 1997 and have a young squad that with some more planning could easily be back next year.
Meanwhile Chicago who was without question the ‘best team in baseball’ during the course of the regular season, they finally made transfer that to the postseason and ended the hoodoo on them clinched an elusive World Series crown after fifteenth post-season attempts since there last victory in 1908.