It’s finally happening. For the first time since 1945, the Chicago Cubs are going to the World Series.
The Cubs wrapped up their historic berth by topping the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship on Saturday. They’ll move on to face the Cleveland Indians, who by virtue of the American League winning the All-Star game will host Game 1 on Tuesday night. The Cubs will be seeking their first championship since 1908.
The night itself belongs to Chicago and Cubs fans all over the world. In a baseball sense though, it was Kyle Hendricks world, and we were privileged to be living in it. The 26-year-old right-hander, who emerged as a surprise Cy Young candidate this season, was nearly untouchable. In fact, he retired 22 straight batters after Andrew Toles greeted him with a single leading off the game. Hendricks ended up going 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two singles.
Chicago’s offense was relentless early, besting Clayton Kershaw with an aggressive approach that seemingly knocked the three-time Cy Young award winner off kilter. The result was a lot of contact, a lot of pressure on the Dodgers defense, which was very shaky, and a lot of pitches thrown, which guaranteed a shorter than hoped outing for the Dodgers ace.
For a little perspective, Chicago had eight plate appearances with runners in scoring position in just the first three innings. They had just two the entire game in Kershaw’s Game 2 start. Chicago tallied five runs against Kershaw over his five innings, and the Dodgers never recovered.
It was simply a dominant team effort by Chicago, which exemplified why they’ve been the best team in baseball all season. All that stands between them and ending the drought now is four wins.
• The Cubs beating up on Kershaw is an attention grabber, but Kyle Hendricks’ outing was simply brilliant. Likely figuring he’d have to trade zeroes with Kershaw, Hendricks’ managed to maintain a razor sharp focus even as the Cubs kept adding on. Without a doubt, it was one of the greatest and most important outings in Cubs history.
• As he’s been throughout his career, Dexter Fowler was a menace to Clayton Kershaw. He started the Cubs first inning with a bloop double and the Cubs were rolling from there. Fowler also added a run-scoring single, making him 20-for-53 lifetime against Kershaw, including the postseason.
• Anthony Rizzo is all the way back. After snapping his postseason slump with two big games in Los Angeles, he punctuated his return with a rocket home run against Kershaw in the fifth inning. Rizzo also doubled and is now 7 for his last 14 at the plate.
• Postseason narrative aside, the Cubs simply had Clayton Kershaw’s number on Saturday. They didn’t hit everything hard early on, but they were making contact consistently. As the innings moved along, they squared him up a little more often, resulting in home runs from Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo. The Dodgers needed more, but Kershaw may have already given all he had just to get them here.
Without a doubt, the final outs. The game had already been long decided, but it’s the moment many Cubs fans have been waiting their entire lives to witness. When Yasiel Puig hit that ground ball to Addison Russell, it was 71 years of anticipation and anxiety rolling with it. When he flipped to Javier Baez, who tossed to Anthony Rizzo to complete the game-ending double play, the eruption rocked Wrigley Field to its foundation. It was a moment Cubs fans will never forget.
Tinker to Evers to Chance, meet Russell to Baez to Rizzo. The Cubs are going to the World Series.
— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) October 23, 2016
• We’ll consider the curse partially reversed. Now that they’re finally back in the World Series, will the Cubs be able to end the drought that has haunted their fanbase for generations?
• With that in mind, is there anything the Cleveland Indians can do to slow the Cubs down? They come at opponents with weapons in every phase of the game. The Indians are crafty and resilient, but this is a challenge unlike any they’ve faced this season.
This gives a little more perspective on how locked in the Cubs were against Clayton Kershaw.
Clayton Kershaw: 5 extra-base hits allowed, tied for the most in a game in his career.
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 23, 2016
We’re off to what’s guaranteed to be a history-making World Series. The Cubs will take on the Cleveland Indians, with Game 1 scheduled for Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. ET. The Indians aren’t strangers to this drought thing either. They’re looking to win their first championship since 1948. We guarantee it will be fun, and we can’t wait to get it started.
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