Golden Baseball Magazine

The Ultimate Game

This series presents the final game of each post-season series that went all the way.
Until 1946, that means World Series Game Sevens (none of the best-of-nine World Series went the full length).
2016 - Game 7: Chicago Cubs @ Cleveland Indians

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer

Joe Maddon

Jorge Soler

Jason Hammel

John Lackey

Hector Rondon

Travis Wood

Terry Francona

Josh Tomlin

Jake Arrieta in Game 5

Addison Russell after grand slam in Game 6

Joe Buck and John Smoltz

Corey Kluber

Dexter Fowler homers.

Kyle Schwarber

Carlos Santana

Francisco Lindor

Mike Napoli breaks his bat.

Jose Ramirez

Lonnie Chisenhall

Coco Crisp

Roberto Perez

Kipnis collides with Rizzo in 3rd.

Javier Baez homers in 5th.

Andrew Miller

Rizzo after driving home run in 5th

Jon Lester

David Ross replaces Willson Contreras behind the plate.

Ross throws wild on bunt.

Ross homers in 6th.

Kipnis after scoring on wild pitch

Cody Allen

Tyler Naquin

Aroldis Chapman

Brandon Guyer smacks a double in 8th.

Davis exults as he rounds the bases.

Chapman and Miguel Montero in 9th

Cleveland fan praying during 9th inning.

Chris Coghlan

Bryan Shaw

Michael Martinez

Rain delay

Zobrist strokes double in 10th.

Albert Almora scores go-ahead run in 10th

Montero after singling home a run in 10th

Trevor Bauer

Carl Edwards

Mike Montgomery

Bryant after last out

Cubs rejoice.

Zobrist exults.

Chapman overwhelmed.

Bill Murray celebrates.

MVP Zobrist

Chicago honors its World Series champions.

October 12, 2011, was a significant day in the history of the Chicago Cubs.
  • On that date, owner Tom Ricketts announced the hiring of Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations. As GM of the Red Sox starting in 2002, Epstein had brought Boston its first World Series victory since 1918 and then another championship in 2007.
  • Epstein quickly brought in Padres GM Jed Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod, both former lieutenants of his in Boston, to fill those same spots with Cubs.
  • The first year of the new regime didn't go well as the Cubs lost 101 games - the first time over the century mark since 1966. Then in 2013, they lost 96 more.
  • The club improved to 73-89 in 2014 before Epstein made the significant move of hiring Joe Maddon as his skipper. Maddon had managed the Tampa Bay Rays from 2006-2014, taking the worst franchise in the American League when he got there to the World Series in 2008.
  • Under Joe's guidance, the young Cubs went 97-65 in 2015, the third best record in all of baseball. Unfortunately, the teams with the best records were in the NL Central as well. But the Cubs defeated the Pirates in the wild card play-in game, then upset the Cardinals in six games to reach the NLCS for the first time since 2003. But the red-hot Mets swept the Cubs to deny them their first World Series appearance in 70 years.

Still, hopes were high entering the 2016 campaign - the franchise's 101st at Wrigley Field.

  • Most of the 2015 lineup stayed intact:
    C Miguel Montero
    1B Anthony Rizzo
    3B Kris Bryant
    OF Jorge Soler moved from RF to LF.
    CF Dexter Fowler
    2B Addison Russell moved to SS.
    Ben Zobrist, who played nine years under Maddon in Tampa, took over 2B and also played LF.
    Jason Heyward, acquired as a free agent from St. Louis, manned RF.
  • Four of the five starting pitchers returned: Jake Arrieta (22-6 in 2015), Jon Lester (11-12), Kyle Hendricks (8-7), and Jason Hammel (10-7). 37-year-old John Lackey, another free agent who had been with the Cardinals the year before, rounded out the starting five.
  • In the bullpen, Hector Rondon remained the closer and Travis Wood the go-to lefty.

The 2016 Cubs started strong and never let up.

  • They won 28 of their first 38 games to lead by 7.5 games on May 18. They stretched the lead to 12.5 games on June 19, which proved to be their high-water mark until August 11 when they shifted into second gear. They wound up coasting to the NL Central crown by 17.5 games, finishing 103-58, the best mark in the majors by eight games.
  • Chicago finished 2nd in the NL in runs (4.99/game) and first in runs allowed (3.43/game).
  • All five starters won 11 games or more. Lester led with 19 victories and a 2.44 ERA. Arrieta added 18 more wins and a 3.10 ERA. The only starter under 30 at age 26, Hendricks had the best ERA in the majors, 2.13, and a 16-8 record. Hammel recorded 15 wins while Lackey contributed 11.
  • The finishing touch for the staff was the acquisition of flame-throwing southpaw Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees July 25 for four minor leaguers. He saved 16 games the last two months of the season with a K/BB ratio of 46/10.
  • 24-year-old Kris Bryant won the NL MVP award because of these numbers: .292 BA, 102 RBI, 39 HR, .385 OBP, and .939 OPS. Anthony Rizzo, 26 years old, finished fourth in the voting: .292 BA, 109 RBI, 32 HR, .385 OBP, and ..928 OPS.

Of course, the year before the Cubs had a better record than the Mets but still lost the NLCS.

  • But they were not to be denied this time. First, they eliminated the Giants in four games in the NLDS.
  • The next obstacle to their goal of giving the Cub faithful their first pennant since 1945 was the Los Angeles Dodgers. But LA fell in six games with Hendrick outpitching Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw 5-0 in the final game.
  • Chicago went crazy, but the jubilation didn't last long because the final goal had yet to be reached. After all, the Cubs had made the World Series in 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945 only to lose to the AL champs every time.

The 2016 AL champions were hell-bent on ending their city's championship drought also.

  • The Cleveland Indians last won the World Series in 1948, three years after the Cubs' previous Fall Classic appearance. Unlike the Cubs, though, the Indians won pennants in 1954, 1995, and 1997.
  • Like the Cubs, the Cleveland franchise got an infusion from the 2004 Red Sox team that ended that city's title drought. Terry Francona, manager of both the 2004 and 2007 Boston World Champions, was hired for the 2013 season and immediately turned the club around.
  • The Indians went from 68-94 in 2012 to 92-70 in Terry's first season. But that was good only for a spot in the wild card game, which the Tribe lost to Maddon's Rays 4-0.
  • Francona's club regressed the next two seasons, winning 85 and then 81 games.

Like the '16 Cubs, the Indians added key free agents in the offseason.

  • 1B Mike Napoli came from the Rangers, allowing Carlos Santana to become the DH, and LF Rajai Davis was added from Detroit. Also, rookie Tyler Naquin took over CF.
  • As a result, Cleveland vaulted from 11th in the league in runs in 2015 (4.16/game) to 2nd (4.83/game).
  • The pitching staff wasn't bad in '15 as they finished 4th in runs allowed (3.98/game). But they got even better in '16, moving up to 2nd even though they allowed more runs (4.20/game). Lead starter Corey Kluber improved from 9-16/3.49 in 2015 to 18-9/3.14. Trevor Bauer went from 11-12/4.55 to 12-8/4.26. The only new starter, 31-year-old Josh Tomlin, who moved from the bullpen, finished 13-9/4.40.
  • Like the NL champs, the Tribe made a late summer deal with the Yankees that solidified their pen. Lefty Andrew Miller appeared in 26 games down the stretch with a 1.55 ERA and earned three saves.

Cleveland roared through the AL playoffs.

  • They swept the Red Sox in the ALDS, then ousted Toronto in five games in the ALCS.
  • Kluber fired shutouts against both teams. The heavy-hitting Blue Jays managed only eight runs in the series.
  • Miller had an outstanding postseason. He threw 11 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just five hits while striking out 21.
  • However, the starting rotation had been hit hard by the loss of Carlos Carrasco (11-8, 3.32 ERA) and Danny Salazar (11-6, 3.87 ERA) to injuries. Francona would have start pitchers on three days rest who usually enjoyed four days off.
Joe Buck led Fox's telecast crew with John Smoltz providing analysis and Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal reporting from the field. ESPN handled the radio broadcast with Dan Shulman and Aaron Boone behind the microphones.

Progressive Field
Series Results
  1. Tuesday, October 25 @ Cleveland: Indians 6 Cubs 0
    WP: Corey Kluber; LP: Jon Lester
  2. Wednesday, October 26 @ Cleveland: Cubs 5 Indians 1
    WP: Jake Arrieta; LP: Trevor Bauer
  3. Friday, October 28 @ Chicago: Indians 1 Cubs 0
    WP: Andrew Miller; LP: Carl Edwards
  4. Saturday, October 29 @ Chicago: Indians 7 Cubs 2
    WP: Kluber; LP: John Lackey
  5. Sunday, October 30 @ Chicago: Cubs 3 Indians 2
    WP: Lester; LP: Bauer
  6. Tuesday, November 1 @ Cleveland: Cubs 9 Indians 3
    WP: Arrieta; LP: Josh Tomlin
Kluber came through with two victories for the Indians, but Arrieta matched him for the Cubs.
  • Trevor Bauer, dealing with a finger he sliced up repairing his drone, didn't pitch badly but still lost twice.
  • In Game 2, the Cubs became the first team in World Series history to start six position players younger than 25 years old.
  • One of those young players was Kyle Schwarber, who was playing his first games since April. Expected to add punch to the lineup after a rookie 2015 season in which he hit 16 HR and drove in 43 runs in just 69 games, Kyle tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee during the second game of the season. Looking ahead, the Cubs put him on their expanded roster September 1 to make him eligible for the postseason should he rehab in time. He didn't see action in either the NLDS or the NLCS but did return for the Series, serving as the DH for the games in Cleveland and appearing as a pinch-hitter at Wrigley.
  • Cubs fans had to think, "Disappointment again," when their heroes fell into a three-games-to-one hole. But they captured the next two to even the series.
  • Maddon admitted he didn't approach Game 7 as just another game. The butterflies are a little bit bigger. I can only liken it to football. In football you can be throw-up sick and after the first hit, you're fine. I'm not saying I'm throw-up sick, but I know when you get out in the dugout when the game's beginning, then (you) actually get your focus where it needs to be. I'm sure our players feel the same way. Eager about it? Absolutely. Thankful, grateful to be in this moment. Couldn't do it with a better bunch of guys and coaches and the entire organization. And our fans. All those things are not lost on me, but at the end of the day, the process is fearless. It really comes down to staying with your process. Winning and losing's going to happen. But the best we can do is to stay with our methods.
  • On the other side, a headline in an Ohio newspaper the day of Game 7 asked, Tribe hasn't had it easy all year, why start now? Francona said the series had played out pretty much as he expected. The Cubs are such a good team that I don't know if it's realistic that we run away with a series. I mean, they won 103 games ... We thought there were going to be some games where we could get beat up, but as long as we win four before they do, that's what's going to matter. Terry also planned to enjoy the experience of Game 7. I go in the dugout maybe 45 minutes, maybe an hour before the game. From that point on, I don't mean to be corny, but I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I love it.
    In his pregame press conference, Francona admitted he had a nightmare during the night. He dreamed that he had broken ribs and woke up in a panic to find that he had fallen asleep with the TV remote in his side. It's not like I haven't embarras­sed myself before. I got up to go to the bathroom and, I mean, it hurt. It's not easy being manager. Terry also admitted he was dipping pretzels in peanout butter in bed, and when he woke up, there was peanut butter on his glasses. My bedroom looked like a national disaster last night.
Chicago's Game 7 starter had one more day of rest than Cleveland's.
  • Kyle Hendricks started Game 3, pitching 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a game the Cubs lost 1-0.
  • Corey Kluber won both Games 1 and 4. His log read like this: IP 12, H 9, ER 1, BB 1, K 6. The two outings extended to seven his streak of starts in which he gave up two earned runs or less. He was 12-1 in his last 14 starts at Progressive Field with a 1.87 ERA. But he would be starting three times in nine days for the first time.
    Kluber struggled in the minor leagues until he developed a two-seam fastball. That pitched helped him lead the AL in victories in 2014 with 18 with an outstanding ERA of 2.44. He was attempting to become the first pitcher since Mickey Lolich in 1968 to start and win three World Series games.
  • Maddon planned to use Jon Lester, his Game 5 starter, as a middle reliever. Lester would normally throw a 40-pitch bullpen session on this day during the season. So why not have him throw that much during the game? Joe indicated he wanted to use the southpaw in relief to start an inning "clean."
    Maddon and Francona had met once before in a Game 7. It was in the 2008 ALCS when Joe managed the Rays and Terry, the Red Sox. Tampa Bay prevailed 3-1 over the defending World Champions to go to the World Series against the Phillies. It absolutely devastated me, recalled Terry. It took me the longest time to get over it.
  • Broadcaster John Smoltz, himself a Game 7 starter with the Braves in 1991, considered both pitchers to have "the perfect temperament to lead their team to ... victory." Both Kluber and Hendricks were stoics on the mound, showing no emotion.
    Game 7 attracted numerous celebrities, including Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, comedian Bill Murray, a lifelong Cubs fan, Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam and good friend of Cubs GM Theo Epstein, and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. A special guest was "Rick Vaughn," the pitcher played by Charlie Sheen in the movie "Major League" about an Indians team that was supposed to lose but wouldn't. A local businessman flew Charlie and his entourage in for the game and provided a police escort from the airport to Progressive Field.

    LeBron James and Charlie Sheen at Game 7
Chicago Lineup
Dexter Fowler CF
Kyle Schwarber DH
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Ben Zobrist LF
Addison Russell SS
Wilson Contreras C
Jason Heyward RF
Javier Baez 2B
Cleveland Lineup
Carlos Santana DH
Jason Kipnis 2B
Francisco Lindor SS
Mike Napoli 1B
Jose Ramirez 3B
Lonnie Chisenhall RF
Rajai Davis CF
Coco Crisp LF
Roberto Perez C
The game would be played in unseasonably warm weather - 69° at first pitch with a 60% chance of rain late in the evening. Attendance was 38,104 at Progressive Field, almost 3,000 over the stadium's listed capacity.
The telecast attracted 40 million viewers, making it the most-watched baseball game in 25 years. This was a 66% improvement over the last Game 7 between the Giants and Royals in 2014.

Members of Cleveland Orchestra play the National Anthem.
One streak would be broken - a 98-year one for the Cubs or a 68-year drought for the Indians. Which fan base would exult and which would face disappointment yet again?
In the Cleveland dugout, manager Terry Francona was already chewing the gum wrapped around the chewing tobacco that was his security blanket during games.

1st inning

  • Dexter Fowler hit a 2-1 two-seamer just over the fence, 406' from home plate in dead CF, for the first-ever leadoff HR in a Game 7.
    New York Times writer David Waldstein: When Fowler hit that home run, I al­most thought for a moment that Rajai Davis caught the ball on his jump because it seemed like the entire stadium erupted. But it was Cub fans celebrating the home run. I have never seen this many visiting fans invade a baseball stadium for such a big game.
    It was the first game-opening HR in World Series Game 7 history.
    Kyle Schwarber hit a slow bouncer to the left of the mound. SS Francisco Lindor, playing to the right of 2B in the shift, fielded it barehanded and threw to first a tad too late.
    Mixing breaking balls away with high fastballs, Kluber got Kris Bryant to fly out to Lonnie Chisenhall in deep RCF.
    Bryant hit home runs in games 5 and 6, the ninth time all season that he had round trippers in back-to-back games.
    Anthony Rizzo hit a short fly that CF Rajai Davis ran in and caught easily.
    As Kluber threw his first pitch to Ben Zobrist, Schwarber took off for 2nd and made it easily without a throw. That was the Cubs' tenth steal in the postseason without having been caught. But Kyle was stranded at 2nd as Zobrist popped to RF.
    Cubs 1 Indians 0

    Kyle Hendricks pitches.
  • "Calm and cool" Kyle Hendricks brought a 1.31 postseason ERA and a streak of 15 scoreless innings to the mound. DH Carlos Santana smoked the first pitch on a line right to RF Jason Heyward.
    Jason Kipnis struck out swinging on a 1-2 pitch.
    A native of the Chicago area, Kipnis lived on the same block as the infamous Steve Bartman and attended the 2003 NLCS at Wrigley Field. Driving to Progressive Field for Game 7, Jason received a call from his older sister, who had been diagnosed with cervical cancer during the summer. She reported that she was cancer free. He told her, No matter what happens tonight, we've got our win.
    With a season record of throwing 68% first pitches for strikes, Hendricks did it for the third time in the inning to Francisco Lindor. The Tribe SS then hit a grounder that 2B Javier Baez fielded on one knee. With plenty of time to get up and throw out the runner, he threw with his right knee on the ground. Rizzo could not scoop up with the wide throw. E4

    Lindor reaches on Baez's error.
    Mike Napoli, hitting only .191 in the Series, broke his bat grounding into a 6-4 forceout.
    Napoli was one of two players on the two rosters who had experienced a Game 7 - with the Rangers against the Cardinals in 2011.
2nd inning
  • Kluber retired the side on only seven pitches.
    Moved up in the lineup after hitting .324 over his last nine games, Addison Russell popped to SS.
    Russell's grand slam in Game 6 was the first in the Fall Classic since 2005. Addi­son also became the fourth player in Series history to drive in six runs in a game.
    Willson Contreras flied to Chisenhall in foul territory down the RF line.
    Maddon explained why he started the rookie Contreras to catch Hendricks. These two guys have worked well together. Just to throw David (Ross) back there right now with Kyle whereas these two guys have been working as well as they have together, I thought, Just stay with Wilson right now. I thought about it before the whole thing began, not just yesterday.
    Jason Heyward shattered his bat hitting a soft liner to SS.
  • Jose Ramirez had raised his average from .219 in 2015 to .312 in '16. He hit a full-count liner off Hendricks' side toward SS. Needing to hurry, Russell tried barehanding the ball but couldn't pick it up. Base hit.
    With Lonnie Chisenhall at the plate, Hendricks got his second pickoff of the Series, nailing Ramirez with a great throw. The batter then lined the next pitch into short LF for a single.
    Rajai Davis rapped the first pitch to Bryant playing alongside the bag at 3rd for a 5-4-3 double play.
    Davis got the start in Game 7 in place of rookie CF Tyler Naquin, who struggled at the plate with 1-for-7 with five strikeouts in the World Series. I think Nake's press­ing a little bit, said Francona. During the regular season, it's one thing where you kind of let him get through it. I just don't know, with one game left ... it's not pun­ishment. It's just trying to win.

3rd inning

  • During the break, several Cub starters, including Jon Lester, headed to the bullpen.
    flew to LF.
    Fowler smashed the first pitch on a line to Chisenhall.
    Schwarber slashed a liner into the RF corner but, forgetting that he was coming off knee surgery, was thrown out trying for second, Chisenhall to Lindor.
  • Coco Crisp slashed an opposite-field liner down the LF line for a double.
    C Roberto Perez walked down to the 3rd base coach to get instructions. Expecting a bunt, the Cubs rushed from the corners. Perez showed bunt but laid off the pitch. Then he put down the next delivery. Rizzo fielded the ball halfway down the 3rd base line, turned, and took the sure out at 1st.
    Santana smashed a hanging curve over Rizzo's head to tie the game.
    Kipnis hit a high bouncer that hit the lip of the infield in front of Russell, who fielded it and tossed to Baez. The 2B tried to grab the head high flip with his bare hand to get the DP but dropped the ball. 2B umpire John Hirschbeck ruled the runner out anyway by the "Transfer Rule." However, replay review overturned the call. Baez's second error of the night put runners at 1st and 2nd with one out.
    Hirschbeck was calling the last game of his 32-year major league career.
    When Hendricks fell behind Napier 2-0, pitching coach Chris Bosio made a visit to the mound as Carl Edwards Jr. joined southpaw Gerardo Concepcion in the Chi­cago bullpen. After another ball, Lindor got the green light on 3-0 but fouled off a fastball. Then Francisco flew to LF.
    After falling behind 0-2, Napoli smashed a liner that Bryant caught just off the ground to his right.
4th inning
  • Lester began throwing in the bullpen to his usual battery mate, David Ross.
    Afterward, Lester, a lifelong starter, admitted: It's not a good feeling being down there (in the bullpen). You don't know when you're going in and when to warm up.
    Despite the shift putting three infielders to the left of 2B, Bryant spanked a 3-2 deli­very on the ground between Lindor and Kipnis.
    Kluber got ahead of Rizzo 0-2 before hitting him in the side.
    Zobrist hit the first pitch on the ground to Napoli, who whirled and threw to Lindor, who stretched to grab the throw, then reached for the base with his right foot. The Cubs chose not to challenge the out call because the video was inconclusive as to whether Lindor's foot touched the bag.
    Russell hit a fly to CF that Davis ran in and caught. Taking a moment to glance at the runner on 3rd, Rajai threw straight but high to home. Perez jumped for the ball and put the tag down on Bryant's waist too late.
    Davis's normal position was LF. Second-guessers wondered whether Francona's regular CF, Naquin, would have nailed the runner at home.

    Kris Bryant scores in 4th.
    Contreras, 1-for-18 in the Series, smacked a fly to the base of the wall in RCF for a double, scoring Zobrist.
    Andrew Miller started loosening in the Indians pen.
    Heyward had gone 22 at-bats on the road without a hit. Get one now and extend the lead to three. He ran the count full before popping to Lindor.
    Cubs 3 Indians 1
  • Hendricks returned to the mound for an easy inning.
    He started by getting Ramirez to ground out 3-1.
    Chisenhall popped to LF.
    Davis lined to Heyward.
5th inning
  • Francona kept Kluber in the game, and it backfired. Baez hit the first pitch on a line over the RCF wall.
    Andrew Miller took over on the mound.
    It was the first time in Kluber's major league career that he had failed to strike out a batter as a starter. Corey watched the rest of the game on a TV in a small room behind the Indians' dugout.
    One of the reasons Francona's club got out to a 3-1 lead in the Series was his use of Miller. The 6'7" lefty threw two scoreless innings in Game 1, 1/13 more in Game 3, and allowed one run in two innings in Game 4, all Cleveland victories.
    The first batter to face Miller, Fowler, was the only batter who had gotten a run off him - a home run at Wrigley in Game 4. This time he rapped a low liner that hopped just to the right of Lindor into LF.
    But Schwarber hit the next pitch right to Lindor who started a DP, Kipnis's throw to 1st just nipping the runner. Replay upheld the call.
    Bryant fouled three 3-2 pitches before drawing a walk on the ninth pitch, the last six being Miller's trademark slider.
    Rizzo, who was overheard by Fox's field mike telling David Ross "I'm an emotional wreck" in the dugout earlier in the inning, belted a liner down the RF line with Bryant off with the pitch. Kris came all the way home as the big 1B stopped at 2nd. The scorer ruled his hit a single and that he took second on the throw home.

    Rizzo does his Rocky imitation.
    When Rizzo reached 2B, he raised his arms in triumph like Rocky Balboa. Then he threw a pair of combination punches in the air toward his teammates. He had been doing his Rocky thing since the Cubs lost Game 4 to fall into a 1-3 hole. He played the movie in the clubhouse before each game, had a Rocky-heavy sound mix played at Wrigley Field as the Cubs worked out before Game 5, and threatened to dress up like the character played by Sylvester Stallone for the team's Halloween travel day between games. And he's quoting him in the dugout during the game, said Maddon. The whole game, he'll be sitting behind me there before his at-bat, and he's throwing Rocky-isms out at us. I think it's great.
    Zobrist put good wood on the ball also, but Davis ran down his liner in front of the LCF wall.
    Cubs 5 Indians 1
  • With the lead now four, Maddon stuck with Hendricks, who had thrown only 50 pitches. However, Lester continued throwing in the bullpen.
    Kyle continued to get ground balls. Crisp went out 4-3.
    Perez was caught looking on a 2-2 fastball at the knees.
    Santana, with his pants pulled up above his kneecaps, took a 2-2 pitch just above the knee on the inside corner that was not called a strike by home plate ump Sam Hol­brook. Then ball four flew in high.
    With Kipnis, a lefthanded batter, up next, Maddon finally went to Lester despite the fact that Joe had promised to bring in his lefty starter only at the beginning of an inning. Lester's personal C, David Ross, playing his last game, took over behind the plate in his last game before retirement.
    Lester's last relief appearance was in the 2007 ALCS. One of the reasons Maddon wanted to bring Jon to the mound at the beginning of an inning was the pitcher's phobia about throwing to 1B. Baserunners capitalized on the lefty's yips to take large leads, daring him to try to pick them off.
    's move was immediately second-guessed, not so much because he went against his intention for using Lester, but because Hendricks was throwing well. Going to the bullpen so soon on the front end would cause Chapman to pitch longer on the back end.
    The new battery got off to a rocky start. Kipnis fell behind 1-2 before hitting a dribbler down the 3B line. With Lester wanting no part of the squibber, Ross grabbed the ball, whirled, and threw wild to 1st down the RF line. Santana ended up on 3rd and the batter on 2nd.
    With Lindor at the plate, a curve ball in the dirt bounced up into Ross's mask and caromed toward the 1B dugout. Ross fell down before going after the ball. Both runners scored, Kipnis diving in head first just ahead of Lester's tag.

    Davis Ross after Lester wild pitch

    Kipnis scores second run on wild pitch.

    Lester tries to tag Kipnis.
    Lindor struck out, but the Tribe had answered the Cubs' two runs in the top of the inning.
    Cubs 5 Indians 3
    Hendricks removal made the 2016 World Series the first one in which no starter went more than six innings.
6th inning
  • Russell led off against Miller and fouled to Napoli.
    Ross made amends for his error by driving a fastball over the CF wall near where Fowler clubbed his homer in the 1st.
    At age 39, "Grandpa Rossy" became the oldest man ever to hit a homer in a Game 7. The Cubs, who hit no homers in the first three games of the Series, now had eight in the last four.
    Heyward grounded to Napoli unassisted.
    Closer Cody Allen began throwing in the Cleveland bullpen.
    Baez swung over a low curve for strike three.
    Cubs 6 Indians 3
  • Starting the inning, Lester threw much better, beginning with a strikeout of Napoli.
    Ramirez grounded to Russell whose throw made Rizzo stretch as far as he could toward RF.
    Brandon Guyer, a righthanded batter, hit for Chisenhall and rapped a low liner between 3B and SS for a base hit.
    Davis hit a chopper over the mound to Baez, who fielded in front of the bag and threw to 1st.

7th inning

  • With Allen throwing hard in the pen, Francona left Miller in despite the fact that Fowler had good swings against him. Sure enough, Dexter lined a single into RF, his third hit of the evening.
    Schwarber sliced a fly to Crisp running toward the LF line.
    Francona summoned Allen to the mound.
    Allen had not allowed a run in his last 16 2/3 innings.
    Miller allowed four hits, the most hits off him in a relief stint since 2011.
    Bryant fell behind again, as he had in his earlier ABs. Then with Fowler off with the pitch, Kris swung through a fastball, and Perez rifled the ball to Kipnis, who tagged the runner to end the inning.
  • Lester continued for another inning, with Smoltz speculating that Maddon would use Chapman for the 8th and 9th.
    Crisp flied to LF.
    Perez fouled off a 3-2 fastball before taking a curve inside. Tyler Naquin ran for the C.
    Santana, batting from the right side against Lester, rapped a grounder the P snagged. As he turned to throw to 2nd, he couldn't get the ball out of his glove. So he under­handed the ball to 1st.
    The loss of the DP didn't hurt the Cubs as Kipnis struck out.
8th inning
  • Allen breezed through the 4-5-6 hitters in the Cubs order while Chapman threw in the Chicago bullpen with the expectation of taking over in the bottom of the inning.
    Rizzo fanned, new C Yan Gomes throwing to 1st when he couldn't scoop the ball in the dirt cleanly.
    Zobrist grounded to Napoli, who was playing him right on the line.
    Russell popped to 1B.
  • Surprisingly, Lester returned to the hill.
    Lindor hit a one-hopper to Russell.
    Still pumping at 93 mph, Lester got ahead of Napoli 0-2. Three pitches later, Mike looked at strike three.
    Ramirez kept the inning alive by hitting a hard grounder past the mound that Russell actually overshot with his dive. The ball went off the heel of his glove for a single.
    Madden finally summoned Chapman.
    Madden had been widely criticized for using Chapman in Game 6. He sent him out to pitch with two outs in the 7th inning with a five-run lead. Chapman threw the 8th inning, then faced one batter in the 9th even though the Cubs had added two more runs in the top of the 9th. Chapman threw 42 pitches in Game 5 and 20 more in Game 6.
    Francona had substituted Guyer for Chisenhall to get a righthanded bat against Lester. Now Guyer faced another southpaw. Brandon fell behind 1-2 before driving a 3-2 100.3 mph fastball into RCF to easily score Ramirez, running with the pitch with two out. Guyer stopped at 2nd with the tying run coming to the plate.
    A 35-year-old journeyman in his first season with Cleveland, Rajai Davis was just 3-for-20 in the Series. During the season, he hit 12 homers, four more than in any other year of his 11-year career. He fouled off two pitches to fall into a 1-2 hole. An outside fastball was followed by a ground foul past 3B, then a late swing foul into the 1B stands. Then he golfed a low slider into the LF bleachers to tie the game.

    Rajai Davis arrives at home plate after his tying HR.
    The HR was the first allowed by Chapman since June 18 when he pitched for the Yankees - 202 batters ago. It was Davis's first HR since August 30.
    The lockers in the Cubs dressing room had been covered with protective plastic in anticipation of the postgame celebration. Now attendants scrambled to tear down the sheeting.
    LF Zobrist recalled: I see the ball go off the bat and I'm chasing it. As I'm running after it toward the pole, I'm saying, "Go foul! Go foul!" The breath is kind of in the body at that point. And then I see it hit off the camera well, and it shoots right back down into the field, near me. The crowd is erupting simultaneously - one side in cheers and the other in a collective gasp. I look up into the stands and see people going absolutely nuts. I'm like, "Did that really happen?" The next thing that went through my head was, "Is this curse real?" I had never paid attention to that stuff - none at all. And now it's like, "How did this happen when we had that kind of a lead?" At that moment, yet, I'm thinking about all these peole who for years and years have believed in this curse. And if I'm them, I'm believing in it, too.
    Crisp kept the rally alive by rapping another down and in pitch on the ground between 3rd and SS.
    Looking worn out, Aroldis fell behind Gomes 2-0. But the new C helped him by swinging at a low pitch that should have been ball three. Then he did the same thing on another diving slider. Finally, Chapman got the call on an outside fastball to end the inning.
    Chapman broke into tears after the inning ended.
    Cubs 6 Indians 6
9th inning
  • Cody Allen returned to the hill as the anticipated rain began falling. He began by walking Ross. Since he carried three catchers on his roster, Maddon inserted Chris Coghlan as the pinch runner.
    The Indians expected a bunt, but Heyward showed no sign of it as he took two straight balls. Two pitches later, the count was even. Jason started timing Allen's fastball, driving two shots just foul down the RF line. Finally, Heyward grounded directly to Kipnis, who made a backhand flip to Lindor, who decided not to throw to 1st as he leaped over the sliding Coghlan. Francona challenged the slide, but the umpires decided it was straight into the bag and therefore legal.
    While in the middle of the diamond, Terry changed pitchers, bringing in Bryan Shaw.
    Allen joined Kluber in the room behind the Cleveland dugout. It was a helpless feeling, Cody recalled. I had finished every playoff game for us except Game 4, when we had a big lead. Now all I could do was watch. We didn't bother icing (their arms) because this was it. The last game.
    With the count 3-1, Heyward took off for second. Baez swung and missed, and Gomes threw to 2nd into CF, the runner continuing to 3rd.
    With the go-ahead run on 3rd with one out, Francona made a defensive move. He moved Guyer from RF to LF and inserted Michael Martinez in RF.
    Baez's AB resumed with a full count. Maddon called for a safety squeeze. Baez tried to bunt and fouled the ball for a strikeout.

    Baez bunts foul.
    So Fowler stepped in with two outs. Dextor hit a soft looping liner over the pitcher's head. Lindnor fielded the ball on one hop on the edge of the outfield grass on the 1B side of 2B and threw him out by less than a step to keep the game tied.
    Allen: People say Corey Kluber doesn't show emotion, but you should have seen us in that room. When Frankie made that play on Fowler to end the ninth, we were acting like a couple of morons, throwing chairs around and cheering and hollering.
  • Facing sudden death, Maddon decided to get another inning from Chapman. However, Joe had lefty Mike Montgomery warming just in case. Miguel Montero became the third Cubs C, batting 7th.
    Batting right again, Santana worked the count full, then skied a slider to Zobrist.
    Kipnis, whom Joe Buck called "the Indians' heart and soul," brought the crowd to its feet with a solid line drive that curved foul into the RF stands.
    Allen: Kipnis hit that foul and we just went crazy ... We're talking about a fraction of an inch off the bat. That's how small the difference is between winning and losing.
    After feeding Kipnis a steady diet of sliders to run the count full, Chapman rared back and fired a 97.4 mph fastball chest high that Kipnis couldn't stay off of.
    Lindor popped the first pitch to Heyward. Extra innings!
    This was the fourth Game 7 to go extra innings: 1924 Senators-Giants, 1991 Twins-Braves, and 1997 Marlins-Indians.
In anticipation of heavier rain on the way, crew chief Joe West ordered the grounds crew to roll out the tarp. Umpire John Hirschbeck explained that they wanted the World Series to be decided in the best conditions possible.
When the Indians entered their locker room, they saw their lockers covered in plastic sheeting. Lindor went into the weight room, unrolled a cushioned mat on the floor, and took a nap.
The Cubs walked back to their clubhouse with drooped heads and blank faces. Chapman was the last to leave the dugout, and he did so in tears. As the players entered the club­house, a voice rang out, Guys, weight room! Won't take long! It was Jason Heyward calling a players-only meeting. When we got in, recalled Rizzo, the mood was definitely down. All of us were just kind of pacing, and then J starts speaking. Ross said later, At first I was afraid it was going to be negative, and I thought, This is nothing any of these young players needed to be hearing. But it wasn't that at all. Heyward told his mates that they were the best team in baseball for a reason. Now we're going to show it. We play like the score is nothing-nothing. We've got to stay positive and fight for your brothers. Stick together, and we're going to win this game.
Zobrist recalled the meeting. It was a gathering of scattered brains and hearts. It was, "Let's all get together and talk about this and get ourselves back in the right direction.
After the game, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told reporters: I think the rain delay was the best thing that ever happened to us ... It was a break in the game. Things had stopped going in our direction. We went down and talked a little bit. Theo and I saw the same thing. All our hitters were huddled in the weight room during the delay. I felt great. I walked up into the stands. I said, "Win this inning, and we're world champions. Maybe after 108 years, you get some divine intervention, right?"

The game resumed at 12:15 local time after a delay of 17 minutes.

10th inning

  • Shaw returned to the hill. How would the delay affect him? Francona had two hurlers warming. Carl Edwards Jr. threw in the Chicago bullpen.
    Counting spring training, this was Shaw's 95th game of the year.
    Schwarber led off with a hard grounder that 2B Kipnis, playing in shallow RF, couldn't quite corral with a dive to his left. Albert Almora took over at 1B for Schwarber, a move that would pay dividends for the Cubs.
    Bryant got hold of a 2-2 pitch and flied to Davis on the warning track in CF. Almora tagged and alertly hustled to 2nd.
    The entire Cleveland infield met on the mound. Walk Rizzo and face Zobrist? Yes.
    Frustrated that he wasn't given a chance to give his team the lead, Anthony strolled to 1st.
    Zobrist, the next batter, recalled: If I'm them, I set up a double play (by walking Rizzo intentionally). I tend to hit ground balls, and you've got Bryan Shaw out there throwing a nice cutter that works into that approach. I definitely felt a little flutter as I walked to the plate. I knew this is a very, very big moment right here, potentially the biggest moment of the Series and potentially the biggest moment of your career. But that thought is in and out immediately, because you're facing Bryan Shaw, who's throwing a nasty 98-mph cutter. So you think, "What's my plan?" My focus was to just go extreme inside the baseball. I knew that if he threw it inside, it wouldn't work out well for me. So I needed to kind of push the ball away from me a little bit.
    Zobrist was 0-for-4, reducing his average to .333. He could help a team win the Series for the second straight year after playing for Kansas City in 2015. After a ball, Shaw threw two straight called strikes. The batter fouled the next pitch to stay alive. Then he smacked an outside cutter between 3B Ramirez and the line into the LF corner. Almora scored, and Rizzo slid into 3rd on the double. Reaching 2B, Ben, as was his custom, gestured his thanks to the Lord and to his teammates.
    Zobrist: The first pitch was a ball, but I didn't see it real well because it was up. The second pitch was a good strike and I saw the ball better, but I was taking the whole time. I thought, "Man, that would have been the perfect one to swing at. I hope he can give me another one of those." His 1-1 pitch was outside corner at the knees, a perfect spot, and I wasn't going to swing at that with one strike. Now I'm down 1-2 and I rally have to battle because it could be going anywhere, in or away. Either way, I'm still sitting on the cutter. He threw one kind of back-door, out there, and I just flailed at it, protecting that side of the plate, getting just enough contact to send it (foul) toward the other dugout. I'm saying to myself, "OK, that was bad. Oh, man, I need something I can hit. Bottom line, regardless of where it's at, if it's anywhere near the zone, I've got to stay inside of it. Otherwise I'm just gonna get jammed and hit a ground ball and it's done." Fortunately enough, the last one I swung at was more on the plate than the one I'd just flailed off - and just enough that I was behind it. I was late, but it caught the barrel. And from what somebody told me, the pitch before is when Ramirez at 3B had just moved to his left maybe a step or so. I knew I hit the ball solid, but my first thought was, "It's probably a double play." It seemed to me like it was toward the third basebamn. But then I see him dive and it go past his glove. At that point, I don't remember anything between there and getting to 2B. I see them throwing it in and I'm jumping in the air because I knew how big a moment it was, how big a hit it was. I didn't care that it wasn't hit well. Or that I was behind on it. Or that it was a ground ball. I was just happy we scored a run.
    pitching coach Mickey Callaway: I'm so proud of all our guys, but if you ask me if one pitch stands out, it's the one to Zobrist. We had a lot of success going in with Shaw, with his cutter. But Zobrist handles that ball well. The last two were away. Had the ball been in, who knows? That's the one pitch if I had to pick one out, the one where I go, What if...?
    Cleveland gave Russell the second intentional walk of the inning to load the bases.
    Montero thwarted the strategy by poking the ball through the big hole between the 3B and the SS to drive in an insurance run and keep the bases loaded.

    Montero strokes RBI single.

    Rizzo rejoices with Heyward after scoring.
    Trevor Bauer replaced Shaw to try to stop the bleeding.
    Afterward, Francona refused to blame the rain delay for Shaw's problems. I don't think it had much of an impact. Bryan Shaw, if there's one guy that you're going to have that happen to, because he bounces back so quickly ... and he was fine.
    Heyward, overanxious with his average down to .158 for the Series, struck out on two terrible pitches.
    Bauer got Baez to fly to CF.
    Cubs 8 Indians 6
  • Did the Indians have another comeback in them?
    The hopes of Cubs Nation rode with string-bean righty Edwards, 25 years old and a 48th round draft pick, who had saved all of two games during the season.
    With the count 2-2, Napoli fanned on a 95 mph fastball that was low and outside.
    The skinny righthander (6-3, 170) got ahead of Ramirez 0-2, saw him work the count even, then got him to ground to SS. One out to go to end the longest streak in baseball! But that out wouldn't come easy.
    Guyer postponed the celebration by drawing a five-pitch base on balls.
    Davis, the hero of the 8th inning, came to the plate as the tying run. Pitching coach Bosio walked to the mound.
    Guyer took 2nd without a play as Edwards threw a low fastball to Davis. Then Rajai slapped another hard one into CF for a single that drove in the runner.
    Maddon wasted no time summoning Mike Montgomery from the bullpen. The 27-year-old southpaw, picked up during the season from Seattle, had appeared in 17 games with a 2.82 ERA during the season with no saves. His mission: Retire Mike Martinez for the championship and gain the first save of his pro career.
    Would Francona chance a steal by Davis, who recorded 43 during the season - by far the most on the Indians? The answer was no.
    With no pinch hitters left on his bench, Francona had to go with Martinez, a .242 hitter in the regular season who was a late-inning defensive replacement. He hit an 0-1 dribbler to Bryant who roared in on the wet grass and, despite slipping, threw to Rizzo to give the Cubs their first World Championship since 1908!

    Final out
Veteran Chicago sportswriter Barry Rozner summarized the celebration in the Windy City like this: Late Wednesday night, a city wailed and automobile horns screamed, something impossible the last time the Cubs won a World Series because the car horn wasn't invent­ed yet. Adults cried and children jumped for joy. Parents called children. Children called parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Drink up, Chicago, the drought is over. More than a century of failure - and a terribly managed game - was forgotten in a single moment, victory captured in perpetuity and stored for everlasting in the minds of those who were certain it could never happen for them.

When the game ended, Mya Antonetti, the 11-year-old daughter of the Cleveland Presi­dent of Baseball Operations, was crying. What are you going to do now, Daddy? she asked.
I'm going to go downstairs and look for Mr. Epstein and Mr. Hoyer and congratulate them on a job well done.
Antonetti later explained: It gave me a chance to share a life lesson with my daughters. The lesson was about losing, that even though we were so disappointed we didn't win, there's a right way of handling it.

The MVP award went to Ben Zobrist, who hit .357 and drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th of Game 7 for only his second RBI of the Series.

Cubs Clubhouse

  • Before opening their champagne, the Cubs players chanted, We don't quit! We don't quit!
  • Maddon: There's no way to describe how you feel right now. It frees everybody up. This really sets us up for so many years to come. I'm so happy for the fans.
    Our catchers have been great - our three-headed monster. They are always ready to perform, and they all contributed tonight. We are very fortunate to have to choose between the three.
    Joe likened Chapman's failure to hold the lead to Andrew Miller's struggles. The Cubs beat up on Miller tonight and got to their other guys because the Cubs are good. The Indians beat up on Chapman because the Indians are good. So that's part of the game.  
    Asked if we would like to have Chapman, a free agent, back, Joe replied: Of course. He's been an extremely large reason we're in this moment right now. I think the perception has to have changed with him, and bully for him. ... Industrywide, I'd have to believe his stock has risen dramatically for what he's done and how he's done it. Total team guy right now. I know that Chappy has made a great impression on all of us.

    Maddon and Zobrist
  • Epstein: Our fans have suffered enough. This had to end this way for them. It had to.
  • Zobrist explained why the Cubs were able to score on Kluber and Miller. We've seen them a lot. Our team has done a great job making adjustments, and I think our ERA against pitchers we've seen three times is pretty high. ... This one about made me pass out. The way that the Series has been up and down, the elation of being up early ... That was an epic battle. Most teams would have folded when we lost that lead, but we really found a way to get it done.
  • Lester: Unbelievable. I don't have words to tell you how I feel about this. It's surreal. ... I've always had a lot of respect for bullpen guys. I know how many times I've put them in sticky situations, and they've bailed us out. It's definitely a situation I don't want to be in any more. It's tough with the crowd and emotion and all of that.
  • Rizzo: I don't think there's any way we wint the game without it (the rain delay). It's the most important thing to happen to the Chicago Cubs in the past 100 years.

Cub fans rejoice outside Wrigley Field.

  • Francona gathered his team in the clubhouse and told them how proud he was of them. Then he summarized the evening to the press. That was an incredible game. ... That was quite a series, and you knew somebody was going to go home happy. They deserve a lot of congratulations. ... I talked before the game about it being an honor to be in a game like that. To be associated with those players in that clubhouse, it's an honor. And I just told them that. It's going to hurt, but it hurts because we care. They left nothing on the field. They tried until there was nothing left. ... For our starters to have the guts to take the ball, like Corey three times in a series - without them we don't get anywhere close to here. And our relievers to be available that much that often and be effective, that's not luck. It's will. I think at times (tonight) they proved they're human. But without them, we don't get anywhere close to here. ...
  • Kluber: It's a microcosm of our year. We got punched in the mouth a few times during the game, but we never gave up and kept fighting back. That's kind of how the season went for us. We had injuries and what not, but we never gave up, and I think that shows a lot about our character.
  • Kipnis: It's an awesome group of guys. There's nothing for us to hang our heads about. We fought the whole time and overcame every single thing you could throw at us. We had injuries, we had you name it and not once did we ever use them as an excuse. All we did was put our noses to the grind, and we kept fighting. We took a very good ballclub to extra innings of Game 7 of the World Series. I don't think I'll be hanging my head for too long. I'm very proud of what we did. ... I just made a few mistakes. They were able to hit a couple of home runs off of them. Those couple of runs in the fourth inning were kind of hard to swallow, but that's the way it is, I guess. ... We will be back.
  • Miller: I wish I had some pitches back or done a few things a little differently. But it's too late for that. Like Kluber, Andrew didn't blame his high usage in the Series for his struggles.
  • Lindor was proud of what the Indians accomplished. We shocked the world. No one had us here. Of course, we didn't finish the way we wanted to finish. The fans saw we weren't going to quit, we were going to do whatever it took to win, grind at-bats, pitch after pitch, work hard. That's our mojo. We battled day in and day out. I love my teammates, I love my coaching staff, and I would love to go through it again.
    As Lindor was leaving Progressive Field about 2 AM, he ran into Cubs 2B Javy Baez, a good friend and fellow Puerto Rican. Lindor hugged Baez and told him how happy he was for him.
    Lindor: I remember being mentally exhausted. There were people singing that Cubs song, "Go, Cubs, go!" I got in my car. My mom and two older sisters were with me. They were crying. I asked them, "Why are you crying?" They said, "We lost the World Series."
    I said, "Yes we did ... and it's the World Series and it's important. But we went for it. We never stopped playing. And we will be better for it."
Lindor, a self-described TV fanatic, refused to turn on his set for 2 1/2 weeks after the Series for fear he would see highlights from the painful loss.
Closer Cody Allen went on vacation in Big Sur CA. He drove the Pacific Coast High­way for ten days. He read five books but never once turned on a TV.
Almost a year after the game, Terry Francona admitted he had yet to even replay the game in his head, much less watch it. I went in three days later and got my hip surgery done. I woke up and thought we won. With all the pain meds, I was like, When's the parade?
References: "Seventh Sons," Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, October 2, 2017
The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, Tom Verducci(2017)
"The Game I'll Never Forget," by Ben Zobrist, Baseball Digest May/June 2019
Next in this series: 2017 Astros @ Dodgers