Next year is finally here. The Chicago Cubs are World Series champions for the first time since 1908 after securing a thrilling 8-7 win in 10 innings over the Cleveland Indians in a historic and memorable Game 7.
We expected a wild Game 7. We got that and then some from these resilient ballclubs and even Mother Nature, who made her presence felt with a 17-minute rain delay before the tenth. When the skies cleared, the Cubs came away with the biggest victory in franchise history thanks largely to Ben Zobrist’s go-ahead double.
That’s how it ended. As for how we got there, we must begin at the beginning.
The Cubs put immediate pressure on Cleveland, scoring first on Dexter Fowler’s historic leadoff home run. Teams had been 15-2 when scoring first from the beginning of the LCS until now, so the importance of getting that first tally had been well established. But even when Chicago ran its lead to 5-1, there was never a feeling the Indians were finished or even rattled. They continued putting together quality at-bats, and with the assistance of shaky Cubs defense, moved into striking distance.
Strike they did in the eighth, as Rajai Davis unloaded an unlikely game-tying two-run home run against Aroldis Chapman. That reset the game and setup a dramatic finish, which culminated in the Cubs making history.
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There were so many moments though. Too many to honestly count. We’ve narrowed it down to five that stood out as potential game changers in an instant baseball classic.
— Chicago Cubs (@ChatCubs) November 3, 2016
DEXTER FOWLER’S LEADOFF HOMER
Every player dreams of hitting a home run in the World Series. Dexter Fowler took that dream to another level, becoming the first player to lead off a World Series Game 7 with a home run.
Dexter Fowler smacked the fourth pitch of the night from Indians ace Corey Kluber for a towering blast to center field, which helped the Cubs offense to another fast start. Though not necessarily a home run hitter — he hit 13 during the regular season — Fowler has been the Cubs offensive igniter all season. It’s fitting that trend continued in Game 7.
SAFE! The @Cubs take the lead!
— #Game7 (@MLBONFOX) November 3, 2016
KRIS BRYANT’S PERFECT SLIDE
As expected, every moment in Game 7 was intense and every play was contested. That led to a lot of bang-bang plays on the bases, with the biggest no doubt coming on Kris Bryant’s critical slide into home plate, which gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
Bryant started the Cubs fourth inning with a single, advanced to second when Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch and then moved to third on Ben Zobrist’s fielder’s choice. The next batter, Addison Russell, hit a shallow fly ball that Bryant tagged on and raced home, perhaps catching center fielder Rajai Davis off guard. Davis’ slight hesitation gave Bryant a few key steps, then he completed the play by getting his foot through the legs and under the tag of Indians catcher Roberto Perez.
The hustle and slide not only gave the Cubs the lead, it extended the inning, allowing the Cubs to tack on one more run.
THE TWO-RUN WILD PITCH
The game took a stunning turn in the fifth inning when Cleveland scored two quick runs on one pitch that wasn’t even put in play. After a David Ross throwing error set the Indians up with two runners in scoring position, Jon Lester, who entered in relief, uncorked a wild pitch that knocked Ross off his feet and allowed both Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis to score. Those two runs would loom very large come the eighth inning.
RAJAI DAVIS TIES THE GAME
Joe Maddon’s use of Aroldis Chapman seemed to catch up with him in Game 7. After firing multiple innings in Game 5 and 6, Chapman didn’t have anything close to his best stuff on Wednesday. That allowed Davis, who on some days may have been overmatched by Chapman, to battle away before getting a pitch he could drive.
Drive he did. Davis unleashed a line drive that just cleared the high wall in left to tie the game at 6.
BEN ZOBRIST PLAYS HERO
Ben Zobrist is no stranger to World Series heroics, having helped the Kansas City Royals to a championship in 2015. Now though, he’s achieved icon status as the man who delivered the go-ahead RBI in a Cubs World Series-clinching victory.
After Kyle Schwarber singled and Anthony Rizzo walked, Zobrist poked a one-out double down the left-field line against Bryan Shaw, which sent pinch runner Albert Almora Jr. around from second base. The Cubs added another run on Miguel Montero’s RBI single, and that proved huge too as the Indians scored in their half.
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