Thursday, November 3, 2016

Cubs Win the World Series

CHI wins World Series 4-3

The wait at long last is over for the long suffering fans of Chicago's North Side. The Chicago Cubs are world champions of baseball after holding off the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a wild and crazy 10-inning marathon that was Game 7, a game that will go down in history as one of the best ever to be played.

It is hard to put into words exactly what happened on Wednesday night in Cleveland. What we all saw as a United States of baseball fans was two teams who were both equally unwilling to give in to the other. We saw a Cubs team earn the hardest 27 outs, and, in this case, 30 outs a baseball team has seemingly ever had to get.

This wasn't just winning a World Series. This was ending a stigma of losing that had held an otherwise proud franchise and city hostage for well over a century. Admit it, when Rajai Davis' two-run homer cleared the wall in left, you thought for a second that the Curse of the Billy Goat was meant to continue forever.

The Cubs were four outs away from winning the Series. They had their closer, Aroldis Chapman on the hill, and he couldn't shut the door. That was certainly no fault of his own; Chapman was overused by Joe Maddon in this series. He used him for 2.2 innings in Game 5 just to get to Game 6. Then in a blowout on Tuesday night, he used him again for 1.1 innings. Overall, Chapman threw 62 pitches before tonight's game. By the time he left tonight's action, he threw 35 more pitches.

Before we go into how the Cubs won this game, lets take a step back because this first part of this game showcased an unraveling Cleveland pitching staff. Cory Kluber making his third start of this World Series, and second start against the Cubs on short rest didn't have it. He got nailed for four runs on six hits over four innings of work. The workload of a long postseason clearly was wearing him down, and the Cubs potent offense took advantage.

Dexter Fowler noticed that Kluber was off, and deposited the fourth pitch of the game over the center field wall for a lead-off homer to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead. A few innings later, the Cubs continued to tee off of Kluber. Kris Bryant singled to lead off the fourth inning, and Anthony Rizzo took a pitch off his elbow to put two men on with none out. After Ben Zobrist grounded into fielder's choice, Addison Russell hit one deep to left, allowing Bryant to tag up and score underneath the tag of Roberto Perez to make it 2-1 Cubs. Finally, Willie Cabrera cracked a double off the wall in right-center to push across Rizzo to put the Cubs up 3-1.

The last straw for Kluber came in the top of the fifth when Javier Baez launched a solo-homer to center to give the Cubs a 3-run lead.

Exit Kluber, enter Andrew Miller.  Here is where Terry Francona's decision making really started to backfire on him. Miller had nothing. The rubber armed lefty had no gas in the tank after being used on a daily basis, sometimes two or three innings at a time to get the Indians to this very point. In the postseason alone, Miller threw 19.1 innings. While his numbers were fantastic all October, it was only a matter of time before he couldn't do it anymore.

On Wednesday night in Cleveland, in Game 7, Miller had nothing. He gave up a single to Fowler, walked Bryant and served up a RBI single to score Bryant to put the Cubs up 5-1. After Cleveland cut the Cubs lead to 5-3, Miller went back out for the sixth inning and gave up a solo blast to David Ross in his final game as a professional baseball player.

Speaking of Ross, he entered the game in the bottom of the fifth with pitcher John Lester when Maddon nearly cost himself dearly when he took Kyle Hendricks out of the game. Hendricks was rolling right along, holding the Indians to two runs on four hits. He ended up losing Carlos Santana to a walk on a couple of very close pitches on the edge of the black, which precipitated the move.

Like I said, the decision nearly cost Maddon, as Lester struggled to his footing early as he gave up two runs on a wild pitch in the dirt to Ross.

But this was how magical this night was for the Cubs. What started out as a mistake turned golden. The Ross home run combined with Lester settling in in the middle innings made Maddon look like a genius later on.

So there they were, the Cubs just mere outs away from winning it all before Cleveland tied it. A proverbial grumble went through the air. Indians fans were feeling up. Cubs fans were beginning to question their very existence. So much hung in the balance that the air was thick with tension.

Then it decided to rain, and rain hard enough that the grounds crew had to tarp the field and stop play for what turned out to be a 17-minute delay. Reports were Chapman was seen crying in the dugout halls during the delay. Instead of celebrating in the rain drops, they had to wait to play again.

So at around 12:15 a.m. the umpires gave the 'Ok' to play ball, as both teams took the field like excited kids waiting out the rain during a little league game. And, like we saw with Miller earlier in this game, another Francona reliever just didn't have it. Bryan Shaw, who threw a ton of innings in this postseason came out to pitch the tenth and the Cubs wasted no time in grabbing all the momentum back.

Kyle Schwarber, a man who spent almost the entire 2016 season on the disabled list with a knee injury, stroked a single to right. Two batters later, the Indians decided to walk Rizzo for Ben Zobrist. Apparently, the Indians didn't see the video from last year's World Series where Zobrist made the Mets his proverbial punching bag. Once again asked to get a big hit in a big spot, Zobrist delivered. He crushed a pitch down the left field line for a RBI double to put the Cubs back up 7-6. Rizzo who stopped at third put his hands on his helmet and screamed in pure shock. Zobrist punched the air with his fists like Muhammad Ali taking down Fraizer. WATCH HERE!

While Bryant was probably more deserving of the MVP trophy, Zobrist got the award because he got the biggest hit in the biggest spot of this World Series. He ended the Royals 30-year drought last year, and was about to slay the Cubs 108 year drought this year.

Now leading 8-6, the Cubs were three outs away from winning it all. Of course they had to get into some trouble. The Indians cut the lead to 8-7 on a Davis RBI single before Maddon removed Carl Edwards Jr. for Mike Montgomery. In his entire MLB career, Montgomery never had a save -- until tonight. He got the ground ball he need, that trickled down the infield toward a charging Kris Bryant. Bryant scooped up the ball, zipped it over to Rizzo covering at first -- 108 years of losing; 108 years of the curse of the Billy Goat; 108 years of being lovable losers, was over.  WATCH THE FINAL OUT! 

Ball Game over! World Series over!

You earned it, Chicago!

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