Cubs win first World Series in 108 years, end curse with Game 7 for the ages
The Cubs' storybook season gets a happy ending in dramatic fashion
The Cubs won 8-7 in 10 innings in Game 7, relying upon strong performances from their up-the-middle players, including center fielder Dexter Fowler, who homered to lead off the game. Closer Aroldis Chapman blew a lead in the eighth inning, yet the Cubs were able to retake the lead in the 10th thanks to a Ben Zobrist double. The Indians gave them a scare in the bottom of the inning but were only able to push across one run, giving the Cubs a championship by the slimmest of margins.
Here is what you need to know about this epic Game 7 for the ages.
1. Cursed no more
We knew entering this World Series that a long championship dry spell would come to an end. Turns out, it was the longest title drought in sports that ended with a title reign.
The Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years -- a stretch that inspired the Curse of the Billy Goat. We covered all the details about that curse here, but most of it is irrelevant now. The Cubs not only won a World Series, they did it in dramatic fashion -- coming from behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Consider that before Game 7, teams who trailed 3-1 in a World Series were 5-39 all-time, per this site. And teams who trailed 3-1 without home-field advantage? They were 2-20. The Cubs, then, pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks we've ever seen. That's how you end all the talk about billy goats.
2. Up-the-middle players the key
If there was a theme to Game 7 for the Cubs -- beyond, you know, winning -- it was how their offensive production stemmed from players located up the middle. Dexter Fowler, the catching trio, Javier Baez and Addison Russell combined to go 7 for 17 with three home runs, a double and six runs batted in. Impressive.
Those marks included Fowler's leadoff home run, which you can read more about here. Consider this a teaser:
This is the first time either the home or road team has hit a leadoff home run in Game 7 of the World Series.— Jon Shestakofsky (@Shesta_HOF) November 3, 2016
3. Rajai Davis: World Series legend
Terry Francona decided to go with Rajai Davis over Tyler Naquin in center field. Boy, did that decision pay off, given Davis notched two hits and drove in three runs.
But that's underselling Davis's contributions in a big way. Davis' first hit came in the eighth inning, with the Indians down by two. He jumped the fence on a 97-mph Aroldis Chapman fastball, thus tying the game. Later, in the bottom of the 10th, Davis lined a single to center, cutting the two-run deficit in half.
Obviously the Indians would fall, but not because of Davis. He has never been more than a role player -- and often he has been less than that -- but Indians fans will remember him and his dramatic home run for a long time to come -- even though it went for naught.
4. Odd managerial decisions abound
There were myriad managerial decisions to first- and second-guess throughout Game 7. Let's run through the three biggies.
- Terry Francona probably left Corey Kluber in too long. It was the first appearance of Kluber's career in which he did not register a strikeout, which is a good indicator that he was running on fumes after starting two previous games in the World Series. Kluber pitched four innings and allowed four runs on six hits and left us all wondering why Andrew Miller wasn't in earlier. Of course Miller would then allow a few runs himself over 2 1/3 innings, but the point is that the process seemed shaky -- particularly after Francona had been so aggressive with Miller throughout the postseason leading up to Game 7.
- Joe Maddon's pitching decisions were also unusual. He yanked Kyle Hendricks in the fifth despite a comfy lead and a good lather. In doing so, Maddon turned to Jon Lester, who before the game he had said would only enter with nobody on base. Lester went three innings himself, before Aroldis Chapman entered, and he promptly overstayed his welcome for the second consecutive evening. You have to assume Chapman's Game 6 outing played a role in his shaky Game 7 performance, and you have to wonder how things play out if Hendricks is allowed to remain in for another inning or two.
- Also Maddon: asking (or allowing?) Javier Baez to bunt with two strikes and the go-ahead run on third base in the ninth inning with just one out. Who knows what was going on here.
5. Trivia roundup
Did you know David Ross became the oldest player to ever homer in a World Series Game 7? No? Well, he did. And here are some other tidbits that popped up throughout Game 7 that you might find interesting:
Hendricks had 3 regular season pickoffs and now has 3 postseason pickoffs— Matt Snyder (@MattSnyderCBS) November 3, 2016
This is the first extra-innings Game 7 of World Series since 1997. Florida 3, Cleveland 2, 11 innings that year.— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) November 3, 2016
This is the first time since moving to relief full-time in 2012 that Andrew Miller has allowed 4 hits in a game. pic.twitter.com/OzlaVE75rx— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 3, 2016
Basically, it was a historic World Series for a multitude of reasons. We just hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Below you can enjoy our Game 7 live blog.