Chicago Cubs Win World Series for the Ages
The 2016 World Series featured the two teams that had gone the longest in between Series wins, 68 years for the Cleveland Indians and a whopping 108 years for the Chicago Cubs. Through the first four games, the Indians’ pitching largely shut down the Cubs’ hitters to the point where the series returned to Cleveland with the Indians up 3-1. It was not looking good for the Cubs. While coming back from a 3-1 deficit was not unheard of—- it had been done in 1958, 1968, 1979, and 1985—- such a comeback was obviously rare and had only been done once with the final two games on the road. That was in the 1979 series, when Pittsburgh came back and beat Baltimore. And with the Cubs history, it looked like the Chicago fans would have to settle for the team winning its first National League pennant in 71 years and a World Series championship would have to wait.
But then something very un-Cublike happened. The Cub bats came alive. Chicago won Game 6 and forced a decisive Game 7 on November 2nd. Chicago would face pitcher Corey Kluber, who had shut down the Cubs in his two previous starts. But Kluber would be facing the Cubs on short rest for the second time. Did he have enough in the tank for a third start? Randy Johnson won three games in the 2001 World Series, but one of those victories was as a relief pitcher. The last pitcher to win three starts was Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 World Series. That was in the days of four man rotations, not five, and starting pitchers routinely threw more innings than they do today.
The Cubs were able to get to Kluber, and had a 5-1 lead in the fifth inning. But this being the Cubs, it looked like the club would find a way to lose. With two outs in the eighth, Cleveland scored three times to tie it up at 6-6. At the end of nine, it was still tied. And then the rains came, followed by a 17 minute rain delay.
The Cubs rebooted following a players only meeting, with veteran Jason Heyward leading the motivational speech. The Cubs came back and scored two runs in the top of the tenth. But the tenacious Indians scored one run in the bottom of the tenth to make it 8-7. Then with a runner on 2nd and two outs, third basemen Kris Bryant fielded a slow roller off the bat of Michael Martinez, threw to Anthony Rizzo at first, and this epic battle between two great young teams was over. The Cubs were World Series champions for the first time since 1908.