Heartbreak at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario; Cubs 8, Indians 7

The 2016 Major League Baseball season is over and the Chicago Cubs are World Champions as they defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in a dramatic Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night from Progressive Field.

It’s heartbreak time in Cleveland once again as the Indians were up three games to one before the effects of an injury-depleted starting rotation finally surfaced against the top team in baseball. The Indians battled down to the wire with the Cubs in a Game 7 that will go down as one of the all-time greatest games in the history of the national pastime.

For the Cubs, their 108-year title drought is over. For the Indians, the void in the baseball championship landscape will grow to a 69th year.

Fowler - Elsa/Getty Images
Fowler – Elsa/Getty Images

Corey Kluber and Kyle Hendricks were the headliners for the finale from Cleveland, with Kluber throwing on short rest again for the Tribe. It was Hendricks who got the early run support as Dexter Fowler sent the fourth pitch of the game over the wall in center field to put the Cubs on top, 1-0. Kluber settled in after that, retiring eight straight before a Kyle Schwarber two-out single in the third, but he was gunned down by Lonnie Chisenhall while trying to stretch his hit into a double.

The Indians had base runners through the first couple of innings, but could do no damage. That changed in the third as the Tribe got on the board. Coco Crisp doubled to left and moved to third on a successful sacrifice from catcher Roberto Perez. Carlos Santana then delivered a base knock to right, driving home Crisp to tie the game at 1-1. Santana moved into scoring position on a fielder’s choice and error at second base by Javier Baez, but Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli each lined out to waste a golden opportunity.

Kluber - Jason Miller/Getty Images
Kluber – Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Cubs responded quickly against Kluber the following half inning. Kris Bryant led off the fourth with a single to left. Anthony Rizzo was hit by an 0-2 pitch before Ben Zobrist forced him out on second on a fielder’s choice to Napoli at first. Addison Russell jumped on the first pitch he saw and sent a fly into medium center field. Rajai Davis made the catch and may have hesitated just a split second long enough for Bryant to tag and score from third on the high throw from the outfield. Willson Contreras made it a 3-1 game with a double to center, scoring Zobrist, before Jason Heyward popped out to end the inning.

Baez homered to lead off the fifth, sending Kluber to the showers and bringing Andrew Miller in from the bullpen. Miller was not the sharp reliever on the night that he had been throughout the playoffs, as he gave up a single to Fowler before a double play. Bryant walked with two outs and scored all the way from first on a single to right from Rizzo to make it a 5-1 game.

Kipnis - Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Kipnis – Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Things were looking less and less hopeful for the Indians, who were now in a four-run hole, but the team kept plugging away. With two down in the fifth, Santana drew four straight balls after falling behind 0-2 to work a walk and end the night of Hendricks. Jon Lester came on in relief and David Ross came in behind the plate as his battery mate. Jason Kipnis hit a dribbler out in front of the plate that Ross pounced on, but his throw to first was errant, allowing Santana to take third and Kipnis to move to second. Two pitches later, a wild pitch from Lester allowed Santana to score easily from third, but the more impressive side of the play was the heads up and aggressive base running from Kipnis, who charged full sprint from the jump and scored all the way from second base in a play reminiscent of Kenny Lofton in the 1995 playoffs. Lindor would strike out swinging, but Cleveland cut its deficit in half and trailed 5-3.

Ross got one of the runs back with one out in the sixth, sending a 1-2 offering from Miller over the wall in center to put the Cubs in front 6-3.

Davis - Jason Miller/Getty Images
Davis – Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cleveland stranded solo base runners in the sixth and seventh innings before working another two-out rally in the eighth. Lester started the inning by retiring Lindor and Napoli before Jose Ramirez reached on an infield single. Aroldis Chapman was summoned from the bullpen, but lefty masher Brandon Guyer doubled home Ramirez to make it a 6-4 game. The next batter, Davis, worked Chapman deep into the count before digging out a pitch and sending a laser beam that just cleared the 19-foot wall in left field to tie the game at six and send Indians fans at the park and around the nation into a frenzy. Crisp followed with a single to left but Yan Gomes went down swinging as the game turned to the ninth.

Cody Allen, who had come on with one down in the seventh, returned in his familiar ninth inning. He walked the leadoff man Ross, who was lifted for pinch-runner Chris Coghlan. Heyward grounded into a force at second before Tribe manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen for Bryan Shaw. Heyward stole second and moved to third on an error at the bag as Kipnis could not field the throw from Gomes, but the potential go-ahead run stayed right there at the hot corner as Baez struck out on a foul tip on a bunt attempt and Fowler grounded to short.

The Indians sent the top of their order to the plate in the home half of the ninth against Chapman, but could not get it done. Santana flied to left, Kipnis struck out swinging, and Lindor flied to right, sending the game into extra innings, but not before a 17-minute rain delay slowed the action.

Almora Jr. - Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Almora Jr. – Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Shaw returned after the brief work stoppage, but the Cubs moved quickly to attack Shaw and the scoreboard. Schwarber singled to right and was lifted for pinch-runner Albert Almora Jr. Bryant flied to deep center and Almora alertly tagged up and moved to second base. Rizzo was intentionally walked, but Zobrist slashed a double to left to score the go-ahead run in Almora while moving Rizzo to third. An intentional walk to Russell loaded the bases and Miguel Montero delivered a single to left, moving all runners up 90 feet and giving the Cubs an 8-6 lead. Trevor Bauer came on in relief of Shaw and struck out Heyward before a fly to center by Baez, but Chicago had itself a two-run cushion with three outs to go.

Hard-throwing right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Napoli and got Ramirez to ground to short for the first two outs before Guyer worked a walk. He took second base uncontested before Davis singled to center, scoring Guyer to make it a one-run game. Left-hander Mike Montgomery was brought on for Edwards to face light-hitting Michael Martinez, and the Indians utility man grounded to third, with Bryant’s throw across the diamond to Rizzo at first in time, clinching the Cubs’ first championship since 1908.

The final line – Chicago scored eight runs on 13 hits and made three errors. Cleveland tallied seven runs on eleven hits with one error. Chapman was the winning pitcher, earning his first win of the series. Shaw suffered the loss, his first of the World Series. Montgomery completed his first Major League save.

Kluber worked four innings and was charged with four runs on six hits. He did not strike out a batter for the first time in 145 career appearances in the Majors. Hendricks lasted four and two-thirds innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits with two strikeouts and a walk.
Miller and Shaw each gave up a pair of runs in relief for the Tribe. Miller allowed four hits and walked a batter in his inning and one-third. Shaw walked two and allowed three hits in his inning on the mound. Three of four Cubs relievers gave up runs, including Lester (two runs, one earned), Chapman (two runs), and Edwards Jr. (one run).

Crisp, Davis, Guyer, and Ramirez each had two hits for the Indians offense. Fowler and Schwarber led off the Cubs batting order with a pair of three-hit games.

* * * * *

The long offseason now begins, but this one will be notably shorter than the others for the Cubs and the Indians. The Tribe, with a return to health and the experiences of falling just a run short in the seventh game of the Fall Classic, will return undoubtedly hungrier than ever.

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Cleveland Indians 2016 AL Champs

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