No longer are the Chicago Cubs defined by more than a century of misery, the Curse of the Billy Goat and the longest title drought in American sports. After 108 years, the “Lovable Losers” are now World Series champions.
Chicago did it the hard way, and perhaps that’s what it takes to end a curse. The Boston Red Sox came back from a 3-0 series deficit in the 2004 ALCS on their way to winning the franchise’s first World Series since 1918. Chicago completed their comeback on Wednesday night in Game 7 at Progressive Field, defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 and winning their third straight World Series game.
It was a roller-coaster night for the Cubs, who had to endure 10 stressful innings, as well as a rain delay after the ninth, before winning one of the greatest games in MLB history.
“I’m an emotional wreck,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo was caught telling catcher David Ross early in the night, echoing the sentiments of Cubs fans everywhere throughout the night.
Left fielder Ben Zobrist gave the Cubs the lead with an RBI double in the top of the 10th inning, and catcher Miguel Montero provided some key insurance with an RBI single. Cleveland center fielder Rajai Davis singled with two outs in the bottom of the 10th to cut the lead to one, but Michael Martinez grounded out to end the game.
Chicago had a seemingly secure 6-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, but closer Aroldis Chapman blew the save, allowing a game-tying, two-run home run to Davis with two outs.
The Cubs earned the Game 7 victory by going up against the best the Indians had to offer. Corey Kluber, who won Game 1 and Game 4 by allowing just one run in 12 innings, was pulled with no outs in the fifth inning after surrendering four runs on six hits. Reliever Andrew Miller had been just about unhittable all postseason long, but he was tagged for two runs in 2.1 innings. Miller entered the contest having allowed one run and eight hits in 17 playoff innings.
Cubs’ centerfielder Dexter Fowler led off the game with a home run on the night’s fourth pitch, but the Indians tied it in the third inning on a Carlos Santana RBI single. With a seemingly secure 5-1 lead in the fifth, Chicago allowed two runs when Jon Lester replaced starter Kyle Hendricks. Ross gave the team some breathing room in the sixth with a solo homer, though the lead was erased when the Cubs were four outs away from a victory.
The game was played in Cleveland, but one could hardly tell by listening to the crowd. Every time Chicago scored a run or registered a key out, it sounded like they were playing in front of the Cubs faithful at Wrigley Field.
In defeating the Indians, the Cubs have passed the torch to Cleveland to become MLB’s most-tortured franchise. The tribe has gone the longest since winning the World Series, last doing so in 1948, losing their third Fall Classic in 68 years.
It was less than five months ago when the city of Cleveland ended a 52-year title drought as the Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. But in a cruel twist of irony, the Indians blew the very same lead to extend what is now baseball’s longest gap between championships.
Chapman was the game's winning pitcher, and Mike Montgomery recorded the save. Bryan Shaw got the loss for Cleveland.