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Cubs overcome 3-1 deficit to topple Tribe, end curse

Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune

The U.S. has certainly seen better years than 2016. This year has been defined by perhaps the most controversial presidential election in history, with a seemingly never-ending amount of nasty jabs being thrown back and forth between the two candidates.

However, while that terrible race continues, sports fans were able to take their minds off of politics for a time when they were treated a competition for the ages: the 2016 World Series. Two teams desperate for a championship — the Indians, who hadn’t won a Fall Classic since 1948, and the Cubs, whose infamous drought reached its 108th anniversary this season — squared off in arguably the most exciting series in recent memory. After running off with a 3-1 series lead, it appeared that Cleveland had their title in the bag, but it was instead the Cubs who stormed back and won their first Series since 1908, becoming just the sixth team in Major League history to overcome a 3-1 World Series deficit.

The Indians took Game 1, 6-0, after a duel of aces, Corey Kluber and Jon Lester. Lester uncharacteristically struggled in the first inning; after he walked the bases loaded, Jose Ramirez tallied the first RBI of the series, giving Cleveland an early 1-0 lead. Lester then drilled Brandon Guyer with a pitch to extend the Tribe’s lead to 2-0. Roberto Perez hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, and then slugged a three-run bomb in the eighth.

Chicago rebounded in a 5-1, Game 2 victory behind Jake Arrieta. The Cubs’ bats woke up, as Anthony Rizzo scorched an RBI double in the top of the first inning. Kyle Schwarber’s RBI single in the third inning extended the Cubs’ lead to 2-0. After Bauer kept the Tribe in the game, the Indians’ bullpen blew up in the fifth inning. Ben Zobrist hit a one-out RBI triple, and Schwarber followed him with an RBI single. Later in the inning, Addison Russell drew a bases-loaded walk to put the Cubs up 5-0. Cleveland’s only run on the night came when Jason Kipnis scored on a wild pitch by Arrieta in the sixth.

Game 3 was a low-scoring affair, but the Indians managed to come out on top, 1-0. Both bullpens were spectacular, but Coco Crisp hit the decisive RBI single in the seventh inning.

Kluber, starting on short rest, was dominant again in Game 4, leading the Tribe to a 7-2 win and 3-1 series lead. He gave up an RBI single to Rizzo in the first inning, but buckled down after that, turning in six innings of one-run, five-hit ball. The Indians’ bats erupted behind him, as Carlos Santana hit a solo blast in the second inning; Kluber even helped himself out with an RBI single later in the inning. Francisco Lindor’s RBI single in the third extended the lead to 3-1, and Kipnis’s three-run blast in the seventh put the nail in the coffin for Chicago.

On the brink of elimination at home, the Cubs sent Lester to the mound, and he delivered in their 3-2 victory. Ramirez gave the Tribe an early lead with a solo home run in the second inning but a homer from Kris Bryant, an RBI single from Russell, and then David Ross’s sac fly, put the Cubs up 3-1. Lindor’s RBI single in the sixth brought the Indians within one, but that was as close as they would get.

The series returned to Cleveland with the Indians hoping to clinch at home in Game 6, but the Cubs were having none of that. They pounced all over Tomlin en route to a 9-3, series-tying win. Bryant hit a solo shot in the first, and Russell added a two-RBI double later in the inning. The Cubs then blew the game open in the fourth on Russell’s grand slam. Arrieta had another solid start for Chicago.

The series concluded with one of the most exciting Game 7s in history. The Cubs had the momentum heading into the game, but the Indians also liked their chances, as they sent Kluber to the mound for the third time in the series. Things didn’t go as smoothly for Kluber this time around, however. Fowler led off the game with a solo home run, but the Indians countered in the third inning on Santana’s RBI single. Russell and Willson Contreras each had RBIs in the fourth, and then Javier Baez hit a solo homer in the fifth. Miller came on in relief, but Rizzo greeted him with an RBI single to stretch the Cubs’ lead to 5-1. However, Cleveland caught a break when they managed to score two runners on a wild pitch in the fifth inning, closing the gap to 5-3. Ross hit a solo shot in the sixth.

Pioneer Press

Pioneer Press

The eighth inning is where the real show began. Lester retired the first two batters before allowing a single. This prompted Joe Maddon to put ace reliever Aroldis Chapman in for a multi-inning save. However, Brandon Guyer split the right center field gap for an RBI double. Chapman’s next opportunity to escape was the light-hitting Rajai Davis. He appeared overmatched, as he was struggling to foul off Chapman’s upper-90’s heat, but was managing to stay alive and make the flamethrower work. Then, as fate would have it, Davis turned on a 97 MPH inside fastball and deposited it over the left field deck to tie the game at 6-6, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

Chicago attempted to end it in the tenth. Schwarber led off the inning with a single, and then Cleveland reliever Shaw intentionally walked Rizzo. Zobrist made him pay, as he hit an RBI double to put the Cubs ahead by one. Miguel Montero added on with an RBI single.

The Indians did put together a rally, as Davis hit a two-out RBI single to cut their deficit to 8-7, but Cubs reliever Mike Montgomery then induced a groundout from Michael Martinez, as Chicago finally achieved its first World Series title since 1908.

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