It was a victory 108 years in the making. And a celebration that could go on for 108 more.
In the seventh game of the 2016 World Series, the Chicago Cubs clinched the franchise’s first championship since 1908 with a 8-7 win in 10 innings over the Cleveland Indians, becoming the sixth team in history to complete the comeback from a three-games-to-one Fall Classic deficit.
Ben Zobrist stepped up against Bryan Shaw with two runners on base in the extra frame, and slapped a cutter down the third base line, bringing Kris Bryant home to score. Pinch hitter Miguel Montero followed with an RBI single of his own, knocking in Chicago’s seventh and championship-winning, curse-busting run.
In the bottom half of the 10th, with the World Series three outs away and closer Aroldis Chapman already used, the Cubs called on Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery to navigate the title-sealing inning.
A run came around to score, but one that history will barely remember. Montogomery got Michael Martinez to ground out to Kris Bryant at third, and with a throw to Anthony Rizzo at first base, more than a century of suffering was wiped away.
Outfielder Dexter Fowler opened the scoring with a leadoff home run for the Cubs — the first ever in a Fall Classic’s Game 7. The score was evened up in the third on a Carlos Santana RBI single.
Chicago added runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to grab hold of a lead — one that stood until Rajai Davis stepped into the right-handed batter’s box against a noticeably fatigued Chapman with two out in the eighth inning.
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Immediately after a Brandon Guyer RBI double that cut the Cubs lead to 6-4, Davis sent a 2-2 pitch from Chapman — a fastball that clocked in at 98 mph — over the left field fence, tying Game 7 at six runs a piece, on one of the most important swings in Indians franchise history.
Kyle Hendricks, baseball’s regular season ERA leader, started the game for Chicago but was pulled after just 4.2 innings, making way for Jon Lester in his third-ever postseason relief appearance. On two-days rest since his Game 5 start, Lester gave Chicago three innings in relief, allowing two unearned runs on a wild pitch, and the earned run that Guyer drove in off Chapman.
Cleveland’s Corey Kluber pitched on three days rest for the second straight start, but allowed four runs — more than he’d previously given up all postseason — over his four-plus innings. ALCS MVP Andrew Miller came in for 2.1 innings, but finally showed signs of fatigue, allowing two runs to score.
Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras each drove in a run, but none as special as the one 39-year-old catcher David Ross was responsible for: a home run in the sixth inning of the final game of his MLB career.
Cleveland ends up on the wrong side of history, becoming the sixth team to ever squander a 3-1 World Series lead — and the first since 1985. The Indians’ title drought will extend to 69 years in 2017.
It’s surreal any way you slice it: The Chicago Cubs have won the World Series. Gone is the 108-year draught, the Curse of the Billy Goat, the Curse of the Black Cat and every other pain point Cubs fans have endured since the dawn of the 20th century.
That “W” can fly higher than ever before — alongside a banner that will look over Wrigley Field forever.
– By John Dorn
See photos from this historic World Series: