Chicago Cubs, World Series champions: Game 7 provides excruciating final test


usatoday.com

CLEVELAND -  It was the moment that time stood still, the earth quit spinning, and a beleaguered but loyal fan base stopped breathing.
Finally, after 108 years, the miracle everyone has been awaiting actually happened Wednesday.
The Chicago Cubs, after one of the most dramatic World Series games played, are your 2016 World Series champions.
Go ahead and pinch yourself, America, the baseball miracle of all miracles finally happened.
The Cubs, for the first time in 39,466 days, are champions of the world, knocking off the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings of Game 7 of the 112th World Series.
As difficult as the past 108 years have been, the final few innings, the last excruciating outs, seemed almost as challenging.
The Cubs blew a three-run lead four outs from victory, forged ahead in the 10th inning on RBI hits from Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero, and then needed two pitchers to survive the bottom of the inning — Mike Montgomery inducing a groundout from Michael Martinez to finally, mercifully, end it.
The 10th-inning rally – started with a leadoff walk to the indestructible Kyle Schwarber- undid a disastrous outing by closer Aroldis Chapman, who retired just one batter but gave up the game-tying, two-run home run by Rajai Davis in the bottom of the eighth - the Cubs just four outs from a championship.
Zobrist’s go-ahead double and Montero’s crucial insurance absolved Chapman and his manager, Joe Maddon, of their Game 7 sins and launched the party of all parties - from the concourses of Progressive Field to the streets of Wrigleyville a couple states over.
“Historical,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “This carries more significance in the city of Chicago, the fan base, just history. Obviously, the last time it was won was over a century ago.
“But for me, the significance is that this team, this group, wins a World Series.
“And that the people that are here to enjoy it prosper in it right now.”
And, oh, did they enjoy.
There were strangers in blue, with half the sellout crowd of 38,104 seemingly cheering for the Cubs, hugging one another in the upper deck at Progressive Field. Some danced down the aisles. Others stood motionless, as if still in disbelief, with tears of joy streaming down their faces.
And back home in Wrigleyville, it was bedlam. The streets were shut down by the seventh inning. The trains no longer were permitted to stop at Addison.
The party of all parties, making Mardi Gras look like a church social, finally arrived.
And for the city of Cleveland, and all of their diehard Indians’ fans, winter has officially begun.
The Indians, after a sensational season, now will be remembered as the first team in 31 years to blow a 3-1 lead.
It’s been 24,859 days and counting since they last won the World Series in 1948.
Hello heartbreak, it’s the Indians again.
If the Indians need a shoulder to cry on, well, the Cubs certainly feel their pain.
The Cubs, supposedly cursed by everything from Billy goats to black cats to guys wearing headphones reaching for foul balls in the stands, wiped away 108 years of pain on this night.
Certainly, it wasn’t easy. It never is for the Cubbies. They were four outs away from winning the World Series in conventional style. They instead blew a three-run lead when Rajai Davis hit a two-out, two-strike homer off closer Aroldis Chapman, leaving him in tears.
They also managed to make three errors, let two runs score on a wild pitch, and pulled starter Kyle Hendricks an inning too early when they went to Jon Lester, who came on in relief for the first time in 2007.
It made no difference.
They survived.
This, after all, was their year.
They were the World Series favorites in spring training. They won 103 games in the regular season. They knocked out the three-time World Series champion San Francisco Giants in the first round, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the next, and then had their greatest three-game win streak in franchise history.
Champions of the world.
Finally.
“I wanted to attack the word “pressure’’ and “expectation’’ from Day 1,’’ Maddon said, “so that our guys would be used to hearing it, and also channel it in the proper direction. You've got to give our guys a lot of credit, because they've been hearing this from Day 1.
“It’s pretty awesome that our guys have been able to fulfill that.’’
“I cannot be more proud of a group. We talked about the youngsters, but I really believe a lot of our success is due to the fact a lot of our veteran players in that locker room really have set the tone for this whole thing.’’
“So, yeah, wonderful year.
“Absolutely wonderful year.’’
Certainly, this was no fluke. The Cubs simply outplayed everyone. They didn’t trail once in the final 24 innings of this World Series, carried by Kris Bryant, who will win the NL MVP award in two weeks, and will be presented with a World Series ring next April.
Oh yeah, and it’s only his second season.
The Cubs, despite that two-run, wild-pitch hiccup in the fifth inning, dominated this game, too. Every player in the Cubs’ lineup, starting with Dexter Fowler’s homer to lead off the game, produced a hit, run or RBI, all by the fifth inning. They got to aceCorey Kluber, who was trying to only the fifth pitcher in history, and the first sinceMickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers in 1968, to start and win three games in a World Series. He survived just four innings, giving up six hits and four earned runs, unable to survive the burden of pitching on short rest twice in the same series.
They even got to the invincible Andrew Miller, knocking him around four hits and two runs. It was the first time since Miller moved into the bullpen in 2012 that he gave up four hits in a game.
The Cubs scored more runs off Kluber and Miller (six) than they had given up the entire postseason (four). It was the 140th start of Kluber’s career, and the first time he never struck out a soul.
It was that kind of night.
If it weren’t a sentimental night enough for the Cubs, David Ross, their 39-year-old backup catcher, even went off into the sunset in style, becoming the oldest player to hit a World Series.
“Screw my career,’’ Ross said before the game. “Let’s win the World Series.’’
During the game, Ross was even caught laughing when Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo told him” I can’t control myself right now. I’m an emotional wreck.’’
When the game ended, they were in tears, knowing that the final game they would ever play together, they would be forever remembered in Cubs’ folklore.
“It’s the Holy Grail of sports championships, right?’’ Ross said. “I’m a part of something special here.’’
“They will make a movie about this.’’
Maybe, in due time, they will.
And this time, it won’t be fictional, or feature a team who won 20 games in a row, but never made the World Series.
Pinch yourselves, and say it aloud, Chicago.
The Cubs are World Series champions.
The curse is dead.
Chicago Cubs, World Series champions: Game 7 provides excruciating final test Chicago Cubs, World Series champions: Game 7 provides excruciating final test Reviewed by Usa Tv on November 03, 2016 Rating: 5

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