by Drew Shelton
For the first time in 108 years, the Chicago Cubs can call themselves World Series Champions. The Cubs had not reached the World Series since the end of World War II in 1945. Their historic 2016 playoff run started with a series against the San Francisco Giants. They were able to hold off the Giants in dramatic fashion, closing them out in four close games.
The Cubs moved on to the National League Championship Series (NLCS), where they played the Los Angeles Dodgers. This series proved to be much tougher as they lost game two at home, putting them at a disadvantage to Los Angeles for the next three games. The Cubs responded by taking two out of three games from the Dodgers. The series returned to Wrigley Field, where the Cubs prevailed five to zero.
Meanwhile, in the American League, the Cleveland Indians, another long-suffering franchise, eliminated the Toronto Blue Jays to set up a World Series for the ages. What made this series so compelling was that Cleveland had not won a World Series in 67 years. In game one, Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber was able to shut down the powerful Cubs’ offense as the Indians rolled to an easy victory. The Cubs were able to steal a game from the Indians in game two with a five to one victory. After a season long ACL injury earned in the first game of the season, Kyle Schwarber was able to come through with two runs batted in (RBI) leading the Cubs to their five to one victory. Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist also contributed to the victory with three RBI’s between the two of them.
After the first two games in Cleveland, the series moved to Chicago. American League Championship Series MVP, Andrew Miller picked up the win. Indians’ outfielder Coco Crisp contributed the only run in the game to give Cleveland a one-to-nothing win. The Indians also won game four in Chicago. At this point, they were up two games to one in the series. Corey Kluber, on three days rest, came back and pitched another gem. Second baseman Jason Kipnis had two hits and drove three runs in. The Indians won the game seven to two. With their backs against the wall, the Cubs pulled off a narrow victory, winning the fifth game three to two and moving the World Series back to Chicago.
In game six, the Cubs’ offense exploded, putting up nine runs. Leading the charge for the Cubs, shortstop Addison Russell batted in six runs. Jake Arrieta pitched five and two thirds innings of nearly perfect baseball, only giving up three runs.
In true Cubs fashion, they made their fans wait until the bitter end of game seven to see their city reign as champions again. Game seven was a real team effort. All eight starters for the Cubs, besides the starting pitcher, were able to get an RBI. The Indians scored three runs in the eighth inning against the Cubs’ phenom closer Aroldis Chapman to tie the game at six. Both teams failed to score in the ninth inning, sending the game into extras. In the top of the tenth inning, Rizzo lead off with a single. In the very next at-bat, pinch hitter Ben Zobrist hit a double to drive in Rizzo and give the Cubs a seven to six lead. Jose Contreras then hit Zobrist in. With three outs to go, the Cubs led the Indians eight to six. The Indians went down with a fight, putting up one run in the tenth, but ultimately lost the series four to three.
[Sources: MLB.com, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated]