The quest for a championship ended in heartbreak for the Cleveland Indians, as the Chicago Cubs took Game Seven of the World Series.
In what was undoubtedly one of the greatest World Series games ever played, the Cleveland Indians fell just short of their championship goal, losing 8-7 to the Chicago Cubs in 10 innings. The Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit in the series.
Chicago had not won the World Series since 1908, of course, the longest drought in baseball history. Cleveland, which last won the Fall Classic in 1948, now assumes the mantle of longest dry spell.
A Ben Zobrist RBI double in the top of the tenth inning off Bryan Shaw, and an insurance run on a Miguel Montero single proved to be the deciding factor. The Indians scored once in the bottom half of the inning, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
The loss dulls the shine on a Rajai Davis game-tying home run off Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the eighth as Cleveland erased a three-run lead.
Corey Kluber, starting for the Indians on short rest for the second time in the World Series, simply ran out of gas, it seemed, failing to command his pitches with the same precision he had shown throughout the postseason. The Tribe’s ace allowed four runs on six hits in four innings of work.
Dexter Fowler became the first player in the history of the game to lead off a World Series Game Seven with a home run, tattooing a 92 mile per hour two-seamer that ran over the heart of the plate to dead center field.
Cleveland did tie it up in the third against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks on a Carlos Santana RBI single that scored Coco Crisp.
A sacrifice fly by Addison Russell and RBI double by Willson Contreras in the fourth swung the momentum back to Chicago, and a solo home run in the fifth off the bat of Javier Baez made it a 4-1 game, and ended Kluber’s night.
The Cubs tacked on another in the fifth against Andrew Miller, taking a four-run lead, but the Indians pulled back to within two thanks to a wild pitch by Jon Lester, who relieved Hendricks. Santana, standing on third base, scored easily, but right behind him was Jason Kipnis, who came all the way around from second and slid in headfirst just ahead of Lester’s tag.
The elation was short-lived, though, as David Ross took Miller deep to dead center to push the lead back out to 6-3.
All seemed lost, as Chicago manager Joe Maddon went to closer Aroldis Chapman, who had dominated in Games Five and Six. But with two outs in the eighth, Jose Ramirez got an infield hit and Brandon Guyer drove him home with a double. That’s when Davis hit perhaps the biggest home run in franchise history.
The loss should take nothing away from how special this Cleveland season has been, and how hard this club fought. Injuries and adversity besieged the Indians beginning all the way back in spring training, and the players never let any of it derail their performance.
So the season didn’t end the way Tribe fans wanted to, the title drought will continue, and the questions and what-ifs will take a while to fade away. But Cleveland is the American League champion, and what this team accomplished can’t be taken away. The 2016 Indians were without a doubt the most memorable club the franchise has seen in a long time, and we can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for them.