2016 World Series
|2016 World Series|
103 - 58 in the NL
|4 - 3
94 - 67 in the AL
The 2016 World Series was a lesson in history, as it featured the two teams with the longest active championship drought in the majors, the Cleveland Indians, who had not won the Fall Classic since 1948 and had been back only three times since, and the Chicago Cubs, whose last appearance in a World Series had come in 1945 and its last win in 1908. In effect, no one alive could claim to have any remembrance of the Cubs as World Champions. Needless to say, the two teams had never previously met in a postseason series, although the two managers, Terry Francona and Joe Maddon had faced each other in the 2008 ALCS when they were both at the helm of different teams (the Boston Red Sox for Francona and the Tampa Bay Rays for Maddon).
The Cubs came in as prohibitive favorites, thanks to an outstanding season in which they had won 103 games and impressive wins in the first two rounds of the postseason. The Indians had not been on anyone's radar screen as a potential World Series team before the season started, but played steadily all year to win a division title, then had ridden some dominant pitching, especially from the bullpen, to reach the Series. There were some significant questions about the strength of their starting pitching, however, while the Cubs had no weaknesses on paper.
The series was a gripping, tightly-fought classic, culminating in an epic Game 7 that went into extra innings before the Cubs emerged on top, breaking their 108-year curse. They had to overcome a three-games-to-one deficit, becoming only the sixth team in World Series history to do so. The series also featured aggressive managing, with some completely atypical bullpen usage, heroes emerging from nowhere and goats getting a chance at redemption. It was a thrilling affair that represented some of the best baseball had to offer - with the only caveat being that the pace of the games was sometimes extremely slow.
Indians The Indians had made it this far by playing solid fundamental baseball, characterized by few errors, aggressive baserunning and a shut-down bullpen. There were no huge stars on the team, although second-year SS Francisco Lindor had the makings of a player who would be very good for a very long time. There were few weak spots in the line-up however. DH Carlos Santana, a slow-footed, low-average slugger, made for an unusual lead-off hitter against righthanders, but his knack for drawing walks was a huge asset in the role. The power came from many sources, with Santana, Lindor, 2B Jason Kipnis, 1B Mike Napoli and 3B Jose Ramirez all having solid extra-base power. The outfield was productive, but the absence of Michael Brantley, out almost all season with an injury, meant it did not feature anyone of All-Star caliber. Manager Terry Francona used converted 3B Lonnie Chisenhall in right field, and a platoon in both left and center field, with veteran Coco Crisp and rookie Tyler Naquin starting against righties, and Brandon Guyer and the extremely fast Rajai Davis replacing them when lefties were starting. The main weakness was at catcher, where Roberto Perez was a top-notch defender but not much of a hitter, although he had managed to deliver a few key hits during the postseason so far.
On the mound, the Indians were very unbalanced, featuring a shaky starting rotation but an exceptional bullpen. Ace Corey Kluber was an elite pitcher, but behind him were the streaky Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer, the latter possibly still affected by an injury to his little finger, and two raw rookies in Mike Clevinger and Ryan Merritt. This was due to the absence of Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, who had been excellent during the regular season but had both been stopped by late-season injuries. However, the Indians decided to activate Salazar for the series, even though it had been almost two months since he had last pitched competitively. The bullpen was led by the excellent trio of closer Cody Allen, and set-up men Andrew Miller and Bryan Shaw. Francona had shown he was ready to turn to them early in a game and to shuffle them to ensure he always had one of the three on the mound whenever there was a key situation starting in the 5th inning. The rest of the bullpen, with Dan Otero, Jeff Manship and Zach McAllister had not been used as much as the top three, but featured some experienced arms coming off good seasons.
Cubs The Cubs had been pre-season favorites and had fulfilled all expectations with a 103-win season. It was a young team, but one bursting with talent at all positions. Unusually in this day and age, manager Joe Maddon had used three catchers all season - Miguel Montero, Willson Contreras and David Ross - but all three had made key contributions with their glove and bat in the postseason. He had some young superstars at the infield corners in 1B Anthony Rizzo and 3B Kris Bryant, a player who had emerged into a major star over the last few weeks in 2B Javier Baez, and one of the best young shortstops in the game in Addison Russell (with his counterparts with the Indians, Lindor, and with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Corey Seager, being his main competition). In the outfield, CF Dexter Fowler had had an excellent season after finding it hard to find a team in the off-season, while utility player Ben Zobrist was a dangerous hitter from the left field slot. In right, Jason Heyward was outstanding defensively but had struggled at the plate after signing a huge free agent contract to join the Cubs. There was also some good substitutes on the bench in Chris Coghlan, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora. The wild card was whether Kyle Schwarber, perhaps the best power hitter on the team, would be available in spite of going down with an apparent season-ending knee injury in early April. But not only was he added to the roster, he was in the starting lineup as the team's DH in Game 1.
On the mound, the Cubs had a tremendous starting rotation led by Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arrieta. Their fourth starter, John Lackey, was a veteran of many a postseason who would be the number 2 starter if he were pitching for the Indians. The bullpen featured first and foremost closer Aroldis Chapman, the hardest thrower in baseball, and some good supporting relievers in Hector Rondon, the former closer, Pedro Strop, Mike Montgomery, Travis Wood, Justin Grimm and Carl Edwards. Maddon had shown that he had confidence in all of his moundsmen and was not afraid to use them in any situation.
|1||Chicago Cubs 0 Cleveland Indians 6||October 25||Jon Lester (0-1) Corey Kluber (1-0)||8:08 pm|
|2||Chicago Cubs 5 Cleveland Indians 1||October 26||Jake Arrieta (1-0) Trevor Bauer (0-1)||7:08 pm|
|3||Cleveland Indians 1 Chicago Cubs 0||October 28||Josh Tomlin (0-0) Kyle Hendricks (0-0)||8:08 pm|
|4||Cleveland Indians 7 Chicago Cubs 2||October 29||Corey Kluber (2-0) John Lackey (0-1)||8:08 pm|
|5||Cleveland Indians 2 Chicago Cubs 3||October 30||Trevor Bauer (0-2) Jon Lester (1-1)||8:08 pm|
|6||Chicago Cubs 9 Cleveland Indians 3||November 1||Jake Arrieta (2-0) Josh Tomlin (0-1)||8:08 pm|
|7||Chicago Cubs 8 Cleveland Indians 7||November 2||Kyle Hendricks (0-0) Corey Kluber (2-0)||8:08 pm|
Game 1 @ Progressive Field
|WP: Corey Kluber (1-0); LP: Jon Lester (0-1)|
|Home Runs: CLE - Roberto Perez 2 (2)|
- Attendance: 38,091
There were tremendous expectations from both teams' fan bases before the first pitch of Game 1, but in the end, only the hometown Indians' fans had anything to cheer about, as Cleveland completely dominated the contest from the start to record an easy 6-0 win. The pitching match-up, featuring Jon Lester for Chicago and Corey Kluber for Cleveland, promised a low-scoring game, and that is what took place until the 8th inning - except that Lester temporarily lost his control in the bottom of the 1st and gave up two key runs as a result. There were a couple of surprises in the Cubs' line-up, with Kyle Schwarber starting at DH after being out all season with a knee injury except for a pair of April games, and Chris Coghlan replacing 100-million-dollar man Jason Heyward in right field. Former Indians OF Kenny Lofton threw the ceremonial first pitch.
Kluber started off firing on all cylinders as he struck out the first two batters of the game, Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant, who were both caught looking at pitches at the bottom of the strike zone, and induced Anthony Rizzo to pop up harmlessly to the infield. For his part, Lester also retired the first two batters, striking out Rajai Davis and getting Jason Kipnis to line out to Rizzo at first base, but Francisco Lindor singled to center. It was clear that the Indians would want to take advantage of their speed against the Cubs, and Lindor did just that, taking off on Lester's first move and stealing second easily. Lester then began to struggle with his control. He walked Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana back-to-back, but almost got out of the bases loaded jam by forcing Jose Ramirez to hit a little dribbler towards third base. Unfortunately for the Cubs, the ball ended up in a perfect spot, as 3B Bryant did a not have a play anywhere after picking up the ball. A first run scored. Next up came Brandon Guyer and he lived up to his reputation as the 21st century Ron Hunt - i.e. the master of the hit-by-pitch - by being plunked on the leg to force in another run. By the time Lonnie Chisenhall popped out to C David Ross, who had to crash into the backstop to make the catch, the Indians had a two-run lead, which would quickly begin to look insurmountable.
Ben Zobrist led off the 2nd inning with a double to the wall for the Cubs, but could not advance further as Schwarber, Javier Baez and Coghlan all struck out. In the 3rd, Ross singled with one out, but he did not move any further either as the Cubs struck out three more times. Thus, after only three innings, Kluber had set a new Indians team record for strikeouts in a World Series game with 8. He got only one more over his next three innings, but that quick start had clearly established his domination over the Cubs' hitters. Meanwhile, Lester had settled down after his rough start, but in the 3rd, he was saved from further damage only by a great throw by Ross that caught Lindor stealing second base (the Indians did not ask for a video review, but television replays seemed to indicate that Lindor had managed to avoid the tag by 2B Baez). There were two hits and a walk in that inning, so without the caught stealing, Cleveland would have almost certainly increased its lead. In the 4th, Schwarber hit a solid double to the right field wall with two outs, silencing any critics of the Cubs' decision to start him in spite of his lack of recent game action, but he was also left stranded as Baez flew out to right. The Indians then added a third run when Roberto Perez hit a hard line drive to left that just cleared the fence before bouncing back on the field. It was the first hard-hit ball off Lester, but he was down 3-0.
Lester gave up a lead-off double to Ramirez in the bottom of the 6th but then retired the next two hitters before his night ended. Pedro Strop replaced him and struck out Perez for the final out. It was still 3-0 after 6, but the game was entering Andrew Miller territory, as the tall lefty had begun to warm up in the Indians' bullpen. Kluber started off the 7th by allowing a single to Zobrist, and that was it for him. Miller came out, but contrary to his other postseason appearances, he was not immediately sharp. He walked Schwarber after a nice battle then Baez singled to left to load the bases with nobody out. This was Chicago's chance to get back in the game, but Miller got pinch-hitter Willson Contreras to hit a fly ball to shallow center, then struck out Russell and Ross to end the inning. That pretty much sealed the Cubs' fate for the night. In the 8th, Bryant drew a walk and Zobrist singled with two outs, but the Cubs were again unable to score off Miller, then in the bottom of the inning, Cleveland put the game away. It started innocently enough, with Guyer drawing a two-out walk, but Chisenhall then singled and after Hector Rondon had replaced Strop on the mound, Perez hit his second long ball of the game, scoring three more runs. Cody Allen came on for the 9th, but the Cubs were done. Another double, this one by Contreras, just led to another runner being left stranded. Cleveland had taken a one game to none lead.
Game 2 @ Progressive Field
|WP: Jake Arrieta (1-0); LP: Trevor Bauer (0-1)|
|Home Runs: none|
- Attendance: 38,172
The start of Game 2 was brought forward by an hour to avoid possible rain expected for later in the evening. It thus marked the earliest starting time by a World Series game since Game 6 of the 1987 World Series - the last ever World Series day game. Former Indians 3B Carlos Baerga threw the ceremonial first pitch, while the winners of the Hank Aaron Award as the best hitters in the two leagues were announced before the game, with Kris Bryant of the Cubs being honored for the National League, and David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox winning the award in his final season in the American League. If the objective was to complete the game early, it did not quite work, as it took over four hours to play a nine-inning game that was not particularly high-scoring, largely because the game featured 13 walks and 8 pitching changes. But at least, it was completed before there was any heavy precipitation, even if the temperature, at 43 degrees, was not particularly warm and light rain fell over the last couple of innings. On the mound, Trevor Bauer showed no ill effects from the cut finger that had shortened his only start in the the ALCS, but he still was not able to pitch deep into the game, while his opponent, Jake Arrieta was in fine form even if he did struggle with his control at times.
The Cubs won the game, 5-1, tying up the series, in what was essentially a mirror image of Game 1: the Cubs scored early and then added insurance runs, quickly building a large enough lead to allow their pitchers to work without too much pressure. They took advantage of wildness from the Indians' pitchers, and the outcome was never seriously in doubt. In fact, the Cubs left 13 runners on base, so they could have won much more handily with just a few more timely hits. The Cubs opened the score in the 1st inning when Kris Bryant singled with one out and Anthony Rizzo doubled to the right field corner. Meanwhile, Arrieta walked a pair of batters with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but Jose Ramirez flew out to center to end the inning. In the 3rd, the Cubs doubled their lead when Rizzo walked with two outs, then Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber hit back-to-back singles. In the 4th, Bauer issued a lead-off walk to Willson Contreras, but then forced Jorge Soler to hit into a double play. By now, there was action in the bullpen and when Addison Russell followed with another single, Bauer's night was over. Zach McAllister came in to strike out Dexter Fowler for the final out of the inning. The Indians were now into their bullpen, and would need to use a total of six relievers to complete the game.
In the 5th, the Cubs basically put the game away with a three-run inning. Rizzo once again got things started with a one-out walk, and Zobrist followed with a triple to the right field corner. RF Lonnie Chisenhall slipped in trying to field the ball, precluding any possible play. Bryan Shaw came in for McAllister and he allowed a single to Schwarber, who continued to make the Cubs' brass look like geniuses for activating him with another good at-bat that produced a run. Schwarber moved to second on a wild pitch, then after a second out, Contreras reached on an error by 2B Jason Kipnis. Soler walked to load the bases and when Russell drew yet another walk, it was 5-0 for the Cubs. For the Indians, there was nothing going against Arrieta at that point: with another 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the 5th, he still had a no-hitter going. Danny Salazar made his return to the mound for the Indians in the 6th and issued a couple more walks after two outs, but no runs. In the bottom of the 6th, Kipnis finally got Cleveland's first hit with a solid double to center. He moved to third on a wild pitch one out later, then scored when Mike Napoli singled off Arrieta, ending his night's work. Mike Montgomery replaced him and got the next four outs with no damage. The Cubs had loaded the bases again against Jeff Manship in the top of the 7th, but had failed to score. Montgomery was still on the mound in the bottom of the 8th, and he got two more outs before Napoli singled. That was the signal Joe Maddon needed to bring in closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman struck out Ramirez, then in the 9th, his only blemish was walking Brandon Guyer with two outs before getting Roberto Perez to ground out to shortstop to end the game.
Game 3 @ Wrigley Field
|WP: Andrew Miller (1-0); LP: Carl Edwards (0-1); SV: Cody Allen (1)|
|Home Runs: none|
- Attendance: 41,703
Game 3 was the first World Series game to be played in Chicago's venerable Wrigley Field since Game 7 of the 1945 World Series. News sites reported that tickets were going for unheard of prices on the resale market as untold numbers of Cubs fans wanted to be on hand for the historic game. Contrary to what had been the case in Cleveland for the first two games, there were almost no fans sporting the visiting team's colors in the stands. Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch while before the game, the New York Mets' Curtis Granderson was honored with the Roberto Clemente Award for his community involvement. On the mound, two pitchers coming off strong performances in their respective League Championship Series, Kyle Hendricks for the Cubs and Josh Tomlin for the Indians, were facing each other. They were both solid again, neither giving up a run, although neither managed to complete the 5th inning either. In preparing their line-ups, the two managers had a different approach to how to handle the lack of a designated hitter: Terry Francona gambled on weakening his defence by inserting Carlos Santana in left field to keep his bat in the line-up, while Joe Maddon was told by the team's doctors that while Kyle Schwarber was fine to hit and run the bases, he could not play the field yet, so any thoughts of putting the slugger in the outfield were quashed.
The game was a true pitchers' battle for the first few innings, although there were plenty of baserunners. The Indians did put a pair of runners on base in Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor with one out in the 1st, both reaching on singles. However, Hendricks snapped the budding rally by picking off Lindor at first base, on a close play that required a video review, and then striking out Mike Napoli. Jose Ramirez then led off the 2nd with an infield single off 1B Anthony Rizzo, but a force out and a double play ground ball later, the inning was over with no damage. Ben Zobrist got the Cubs' first hit in leading off the bottom of that inning with a single, but the next three men made outs. In the 4th, Lindor led off with a single then moved to second on a one-out single by Ramirez, but Hendricks retired the next two batters. Similarly, the Cubs wasted a lead-off walk by Kris Bryant in the bottom of the 4th.
The 5th inning was a big wasted opportunity for Cleveland, as once again the Indians put their lead-off man on base, this time Tyler Naquin who hit a single. Tomlin followed by laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt in spite of running a two-strike count. Santana then drew a walk and Kipnis was hit by a pitch to load the bases with only one out. Maddon decided to change pitchers then, bringing in Justin Grimm to face the hot-hitting Lindor. The young shortstop managed to work a full count then hit a hard ground ball, but it was straight at 2B Javier Baez who started an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Jorge Soler started the bottom of the inning with a single off Tomlin and moved to second on a ground ball, but Addison Russell followed with another soft grounder. Francona now decided to bring in a new pitcher as well and called on his ace reliever Andrew Miller to face pinch-hitter Miguel Montero. Montero lined out to right to end another fruitless inning. In the 6th, both Carl Edwards and Miller pitched perfect innings, the latter striking out the side.
Thus, the game was still scoreless in the top of the 7th. Edwards came back for a second inning of work, but Roberto Perez led off with a single. Figuring that one run could be enough to win such a tight game, Francona gambled by bringing in Michael Martinez to pinch run for his catcher, knowing that the only back-up available was Yan Gomes, who was very rusty after not having played since the regular season. But Martinez's speed came in handy, as he easily made it to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Naquin. Next up was Rajai Davis, who had come into the game in a double switch when Miller entered the game. Martinez advanced to third on a wild pitch, then Edwards walked Davis, putting a second very fast runner on base. It was now Miller's turn to bat and Francona rolled the dice again, taking out his best reliever in favor of pinch-hitter Coco Crisp. The Cubs almost turned a game-saving play a few moments later as C Willson Contreras came within a whisker of picking Martinez off third base, but he was confirmed safe after a video review. Crisp then dropped a ball just in front of Soler in right field. The Cubs right fielder made a tremendous throw to third, nailing Davis by a good five steps, but Martinez had come in to score. It would turn out to be the lone run of the game. Mike Montgomery now replaced Edward on the mound, and he got Kipnis to ground towards first base, and Kipnis was beaten by a fraction of a second by Baez's throw to Montgomery who covered the bag.
The Cubs had a good chance to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th, but could not cash in the run. Bryan Shaw took over on the mound and after two outs, Soler lifted a ball towards the right field corner. A lot had been made before the game of how the strong winds in Chicago would affect the game, but this was pretty much the only play on which they had an effect, as the ball first appeared to be headed foul into the stands, but was blown back towards the field of play. Unfamiliar with Wrigley's tricky right field corner, Lonnie Chisenhall hesitated, losing his sense of how far he was from the brick wall marking the right field line, and the ball fell between him and the wall for a triple. Jason Heyward then pinch ran for Soler but Baez was unable to get the key hit off Shaw, grounding out to Lindor at shortstop for the final out. The 8th saw a pair of pitching changes and Dexter Fowler being stranded on third after a two-out single, but no scoring. Closer Cody Allen was now in the game for the Indians, and Aroldis Chapman joined him for Chicago when he took over in the top of the 9th. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning, setting up the Cubs' final chance to tie the game. Rizzo started things off well with a single to left, and he was replaced by a pinch-runner, Chris Coghlan. Coghlan did not attempt anything during the next at-bat, by Zobrist, who struck out swinging. But when Contreras followed him, the Cubs put on a hit-and-run play, and the decision to have Coghlan running was a good one, as the Cubs' catcher hit a hard grounder to third that would likely have been a game-ending double play otherwise. Instead, Ramirez only had a play at first and Coghlan was in scoring position, although there were now two outs. Next up was Heyward, whose bat had been very cold in the postseason, leading to his being benched in all three games of the series thus far. He hit a tough ground ball towards first base that Napoli bobbled, allowing both runners to be safe. Napoli was charged with an error, but he made the right decision in not attempting a desperate relay to Allen who was running to cover first base, as he had no chance of beating Heyward, who was running full out, and any bobble would have led to Coghlan continuing on to home plate and potentially scoring the tying run. Baez was the next batter, and Heyward immediately took off for second, stealing the base without a throw. A single could now win the game for the Cubbies, but Allen instead struck out the young infielder swinging to preserve the Indians' critical win.
The win was the fifth shutout thrown by the Indians' pitchers during the postseason - a new record; all of the shutouts were combined efforts involving more than one pitcher. For the Cubs, it was already the fourth time they had been whitewashed, including a pair of 1-0 losses at home.
Game 4 @ Wrigley Field
|WP: Corey Kluber (2-0); LP: John Lackey (0-1)|
|Home Runs: CLE - Carlos Santana (1), Jason Kipnis (1); CHI - Dexter Fowler (1)|
- Attendance: 41,706
The Indians won Game 4, 7-2, to move within one game of the title, behind the pitching of Corey Kluber, who won his second start, and some timely hitting, including a pair of homers. The ceremonial first pitch was jointly thrown by Hall of Fame pitchers Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux. In terms of starting line-up, Terry Francona opted to tab his ace, Kluber, on short rest, while Joe Maddon went with his fourth starter, John Lackey, who had not shown much in the postseason thus far in spite of his vast experience. Francona moved his DH, Carlos Santana, from LF to 1B, replacing Mike Napoli, while Rajai Davis started in left. For the Cubs, Maddon put Jason Heyward back in right field and shuffled his batting order in hope of waking up his slumbering hitters.
Lackey started off the game by retiring the Indians in order in the top of the 1st, then the Cubs took the lead as Dexter Fowler led off the bottom the 1st with a double that Davis dove in vain to catch in left field. After one out, Anthony Rizzo singled to center to drive in Fowler. After a second out, Rizzo stole second but Willson Contreras was unable to drive him in, striking out to end the inning. The Cubs' lead was very short-lived, though, as the first batter in the 2nd, Santana, homered to right to tie the score. It was the beginning of a tough inning for the Cubs. Jose Ramirez grounded out, but Lonnie Chisenhall reached base with a soft grounder to third; Kris Bryant made a nice play to field the ball, but then threw it way over 1B Rizzo's head for an error. Roberto Perez grounded out to Lackey, but Chisenhall was able to take second. Meanwhile, Lackey was unhappy with home plate umpire Marvin Hudson's ball and strike calls and was clearly showing his displeasure. With the number 8 hitter coming up, Maddon decided to issue an intentional walk to Tyler Naquin to face Kluber. But Lackey could not put his opposite number away. With a full count, Kluber hit another grounder to Bryant, who tried a desperate throw to first. He would have been better to hold on to the ball, as his throw had no chance of getting Kluber, but pulled Rizzo off the bag enough for Chisenhall to head home with the go-ahead run. Kluber was credited with a single, and Bryant charged with a second error. Davis grounded out to end the inning, but the Cubs were visibly deflated.
In the bottom of the 2nd, the Cubs had a chance to do something when Heyward singled with one out, but Baez immediately grounded into a inning-ending double play. First base umpire Tony Randazzo initially called Baez safe at first, but a challenge by Francona resulted in the call being overturned. The Indians then added another run when Jason Kipnis led off the 3rd with a double and scored on a single by Francisco Lindor with no one out. Lackey was almost out of the game at that point, but he managed to escape by striking out Santana and getting Ramirez to ground into a double play. Trailing 3-1, the Cubs were then unable to get anything going against Kluber, wasting the few opportunities they did get. In the 3rd, for example, Bryant drew a two-out walk and Rizzo was hit by a pitch, but Ben Zobrist struck out to end the inning. Lackey had batted for himself in that inning, and returned to pitch a perfect 4th and 5th.
Mike Montgomery took over on the mound for Chicago in the 6th, and he put himself in immediate trouble by issuing a lead-off walk to Lindor. Santana then hit a single to the mound to put a second man on, and Ramirez also hit a comebacker to Montgomery. He attempted to start a double play, getting Santana at second but not Ramirez, and he would probably have been better advised to go for the lead runner at third instead. Chisenhall followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score 4-1, then Perez drew another walk. When Brandon Guyer was announced into the game to pinch-hit for Naquin, Maddon replaced Montgomery with Justin Grimm, who struck out Guyer to end the inning. The Cubs were reeling, but Rizzo gave them a glimmer of hope by starting off the bottom of the 6th with a double that hit the brick wall in left just behind Guyer. However, he was stuck there as the next three batters all made outs, to strand yet another runner in scoring position.
The Indians put the game away in the 7th. Coco Crisp pinch hit for Kluber and hit a double to lead off the inning against Grimm, who then plunked Davis with a pitch. Travis Wood replaced Grimm, but Kipnis, a lefty facing a lefty, hit a ball deep into the right field stands for a three-run homer. To make things worse, Andrew Miller was already warming up when Crisp came to bat, and Francona decided to get him into the ballgame anyway, not wanting to have had him warm up for nothing. He retired the Cubs in order in the bottom of the 7th, but in the 8th, he did prove he was human by allowing a solo homer to Fowler, the first run he had allowed in the postseason in his career. In the 9th, with a 7-2 lead, Francona did not need to bring in his closer, Cody Allen, so Dan Otero was called to the mound. He gave up a one-out single to Addison Russell but nothing else as Cleveland nailed down the win.
Game 5 @ Wrigley Field
|WP: Jon Lester (1-1); LP: Trevor Bauer (0-2); SV: Aroldis Chapman (1)|
|Home Runs: CLE - Jose Ramirez (1); CHI - Kris Bryant (1)|
- Attendance: 41,711
Facing elimination, the Cubs scored in only one inning of Game 5, but those three runs were enough to extend the series. The game featured a rare match-up of pitchers who had both already been charged with a loss in the series, Jon Lester for Chicago and Trevor Bauer for Cleveland. In terms of starting line-ups, Carlos Santana went back to left field for Cleveland, with Mike Napoli returning to play first base, while Brandon Guyer replaced Lonnie Chisenhall in right field. For the Cubs, David Ross was back in his role as personal catcher for Lester and Jason Heyward was again in the starting line-up in right field.
Things started off well for Lester, given he struck out the side in the top of the 1st, and Bauer followed by striking out the first two men he faced before retiring Anthony Rizzo on a fly ball to left. In the 2nd, however, after Rizzo had made a brilliant play to catch a foul pop-up that had deflected off Ross's glove for the second out, Jose Ramirez hit a homer to left field and the Indians had once again an early lead. Given they had won every single game in which they had scored first this postseason, it was understandable that this run made the Wrigley Field fans uneasy. Addison Russell managed the Cubs' first hit in the bottom of the inning, a one-out single, but the two men who followed him both struck out. It seemed like a familiar scenario was unfolding again, especially after Bauer pitched another scoreless inning in the bottom of the 3rd and looked completely on top of things at that point. Chicago made a couple of other nice defensive plays, with Heyward jumping high against the right field wall to catch a foul ball off the bat of Bauer in the 3rd and Ross making a nice catch on another foul pop up to end the 4th.
The game turned around in the bottom of the 4th, thanks in large part to Kris Bryant who surprised Bauer by driving one of his pitches just beyond the wall in left center for a game-tying home run. The home run was immediately followed by a double hit to right field by Rizzo, and suddenly, it was the Indians who were in trouble, especially as Ben Zobrist followed with another single. Addison Russell was next up, and he hit a single to third base to give Chicago the lead. Bauer managed to strike out Heyward for the first out, but up next, Javier Baez, who had had trouble making contact since the Series started, surprised everyone with a perfect bunt down the third base line. It landed for a single and the bases were loaded. Ross then drove a ball to left field for a sacrifice fly, increasing the lead to 3-1, before Lester struck out to end the inning. Joe Maddon could have called for a pinch-hitter, but with his relievers not having pitched very well of late and Lester in good form, he opted to let him bat for himself. Lester almost made him regret the decision when he allowed a lead-off double to Santana in the 5th. Santana then moved to third on a ground out by Ramirez, but Lester stranded him there when he struck out Guyer and got Roberto Perez to ground out. In the bottom of the 5th, with rookie Mike Clevinger now pitching, Bryant walked and later stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by C Perez; Zobrist then drew another walk but Russell ended the inning with a fly ball.
The Indians came close to knotting up the score in the 6th. Lester allowed a one-out single to Rajai Davis, who took advantage of Lester's well-known reluctance to throw to first base by taking a huge lead and then stealing second base easily. Jason Kipnis struck out, but Francisco Lindor singled to cut the lead to 3-2. Lindor then tried to imitate Davis. He took a huge lead and took off for second, but in a huge play, Ross threw an absolute bullet to Baez at second, and Lindor was nailed down for the third out. Things were now getting more tense with each batter. Bryan Shaw came in to pitch and he struck out the side in the bottom of the 6th. In the 7th, Maddon made a double switch, with Carl Edwards coming in to pitch and Willson Contreras taking over at catcher. Napoli led off with a single then moved to second on a passed ball by Contreras. Edwards managed to force Santana to fly out to shallow left, then Maddon decided to go for broke, bringing in his closer, Aroldis Chapman, with 8 outs still needed to end the game. But Chapman was up to the task. He struck out Ramirez, then after plunking Guyer, he forced Perez to hit a soft ground ball to Baez, and the inning was over without the Indians scoring. In the bottom of the 7th, Terry Francona also decided to go to his closer early, bringing in Cody Allen after one out. He plunked Dexter Fowler, hitting him on the top of the left foot in what seemed to be quite painful, but Fowler took revenge by swiping second. However, Allen struck out Bryant, and after issuing an intentional walk to Rizzo, he forced Zobrist to pop out. In the 8th, Chapman gave up a single to Davis, who once again stole second, but the next two batters made out, while the Cubs were also unable to take advantage of a single and stolen base - by Heyward - in the bottom of the inning. The Cubs were three outs away from forcing a sixth game, but Chapman was entering uncharted territory - for him. He seemed completely unaffected by the unusually long outing, however, as he got Napoli to ground out and Santana to fly out, and then ended the game by striking out Ramirez. Maddon's gamble of using his closer early had paid off, and the Cubs had done just enough scoring to end up on the right side of the final ledger.
Game 6 @ Progressive Field
|WP: Jake Arrieta (2-0); LP: Josh Tomlin (0-1)|
|Home Runs: CHI - Kris Bryant (2), Addison Russell (1), Anthony Rizzo (1); CLE - Jason Kipnis (2)|
- Attendance: 38,116
Game 6 was played on an unseasonably balmy night in Cleveland and it featured two pitchers who had done well in their previous series start, Jake Arrieta for Chicago and Josh Tomlin for the Indians. The Cubs had a simple tactic: they wanted to score early in order to take out the Indians' top two relievers, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, as factors in the game. They managed just that, scoring three times in the 1st and adding four more runs in the 3rd, helped by some iffy defensive work by the Indians' outfield.
Tomlin registered two quick outs in the 1st, then was taken deep by Kris Bryant who parked a ball in the left-centerfield stands, taking a page out of the Indians' play book. That early run was already something, but the Cubs didn't stop there. Anthony Rizzo followed with a single to center and Ben Zobrist with one to right field. With runners at the corners, Addison Russell lifted a ball high towards right center. Both CF Tyler Naquin and RF Lonnie Chisenhall converged towards it, but perhaps because of the intense noise in Progressive Field, neither took charge and the ball fell safely between the two outfielders. Rizzo scored easily from third and Zobrist ran all the way home, bowling over C Roberto Perez, who never had a solid grasp on 2B Jason Kipnis's relay throw. He scored too and Russell made it to third on the error charged to Kipnis. Terry Francona began to warm up Mike Clevinger, but Tomlin managed to get out of the inning by forcing Willson Contreras to fly out to center. However, the Cubs had a 3-0 lead.
Arrieta walked Francisco Lindor with two outs in the bottom of the 1st and retired the side in the 2nd, then in the 3rd, the Cubs got the killing blow against Tomlin. The inning started with a rare walk by Cleveland's starter, issued to Kyle Schwarber, who was back in the starting line-up as Chicago's DH. Bryant flied out, but Rizzo singled to center, putting a second runner on. Zobrist followed with another single, and the bases were loaded with one out. Francona had seen enough and took out Tomlin, bringing in Dan Otero to face Russell. His first two pitches were balls and he came back with a fastball straight down the pipe that the Cubs' young shortstop did not miss. The ball cleared the fence in one of the deepest parts of the ballpark in centerfield for the first grand slam in Cubs World Series history. It was now 7-0, with Russell having collected 6 RBIs, and for all intents and purposes, a Game 7 was a certainty unless something catastrophic happened to knock down the Cubs. It was not the case.
Cleveland managed to get on the scoreboard in the 4th when Kipnis led off with a double and Mike Napoli singled with one out. Arrieta then continued to struggle, hitting Chisenhall with a pitch with two outs, the second out coming a tremendous tumbling catch of a line drive by RF Jason Heyward, and then walking Coco Crisp to load the bases after Contreras had allowed his second passed ball in two games. It was up to Naquin to redeem himself for his adventurous outfield play, but he struck out, wasting a huge opportunity for the Indians to get back into the game. In the 5th, Kipnis homered with two outs to make the score 7-2, keeping Cleveland's faint hopes alive. Meanwhile, the Indians' relievers, Danny Salazar, Jeff Manship and Zach McAllister, had managed to keep the Cubs from padding their lead through the middle innings and Arrieta's pitch count was getting up. After he walked Chisenhall with two outs in the bottom of the 6th, he gave way to Mike Montgomery, who got Brandon Guyer, batting for Crisp, to hit into a force play. In the top of the 7th, Schwarber and Bryant led off the inning with back-to-back singles but McAllister got the next three batters for another scoreless inning. The Indians then threatened again, when Perez drew a one-out walk and Kipnis singled with two outs. Maddon had his closer Aroldis Chapman warming up and did not hesitate to bring him into the game in the 7th inning for the second straight game. Chapman got Lindor to hit a ball towards Rizzo at first base, who tossed to Chapman covering the bag. Lindor was originally called safe, but the Cubs asked for a video review, which confirmed that the Cubs' pitcher had stepped on the bag a fraction of a second before Lindor. Chapman seemed to be hurt on the play, as he was limping visibly, but with the inning over, he had time to rest up. He was back for the bottom of the 8th, and while he was not throwing his usual 100+ mph heat, he got out of the inning by forcing pinch-hitter Yan Gomes to ground into an inning-ending double play after a single by Jose Ramirez.
Leading 7-2 in the top of the 9th, the Cubs put the game completely away by adding two more runs off the rookie Clevinger, on a single by Bryant and a homer by Rizzo. There should have been no need to bring back Chapman for another inning of work with a seven-run lead, but Maddon had him on the mound to face Guyer, who drew a walk. Now was when Maddon brought in Pedro Strop. He allowed a meaningless run on a wild pitch and a single by Perez. Under normal circumstances, Strop would have come in earlier, in order not to tax Chapman so much with another game coming up, but there was speculation that Strop wasn't quite right, and indeed he was taken out of the game following a walk to Carlos Santana. It was thus Travis Wood who recorded the final out, when Kipnis popped out to Russell in foul territory. There would need to be a decisive Game 7.
Game 7 @ Progressive Field
|WP: Aroldis Chapman (1-0); LP: Bryan Shaw (0-1); SV: Mike Montgomery (1)|
|Home Runs: CHI - Dexter Fowler (2), Javier Baez (1), David Ross (1); CLE - Rajai Davis (1)|
- Attendance: 38,104
Game 7 proved to be an epic contest, chock full of memorable plays, with a parade of heroes, and a brief rainfall that stopped the game for a time just before extra innings began. In the end, it was the Cubs who came out on top, having led for most of the game, but the Indians gave them quite a run for their money. As a result, they put an end to their historic 108-year title drought, while the Indians took over as the team with the longest period without a title. On the mound, the Indians returned with Corey Kluber, again on short rest, hoping he would be able to muzzle the Cubs for a third time, while Chicago went with Kyle Hendricks, but with the knowledge that both Jon Lester and John Lackey were available out of the bullpen if needed.
It did not take long for the Cubs to get on the board. The first batter of the game, Dexter Fowler, took Kluber deep with a 2-1 count, and for the second straight game, Chicago had taken a 1st-inning lead on a long ball. Kyle Schwarber followed with a single, and it was immediately clear that Kluber was not his usual sharp self. He managed to get out of the inning, but not before he left a few other balls up in the strike zone, with Kris Bryant hitting a pitch to the warning track and Schwarber stealing second base standing up. For his part, Hendricks got two quick outs, then 2B Javier Baez rushed his throw on a ground ball by Francisco Lindor, allowing the Indians' shortstop to reach on the error. However, he was left stranded. In the 2nd, the Cubs went down in order, but Jose Ramirez led off with a single. However, he was immediately picked off first base by Hendricks, which turned out to be an important play because Lonnie Chisenhall followed with another single. Rajai Davis then grounded into a double play, as even with his great speed, he was unable to beat Baez's relay to first.
The Indians tied the game in the bottom of the 3rd when Coco Crisp hit a lead-off double, moved to third on a sacrifice hit by Roberto Perez and scored on a single by Carlos Santana. Jason Kipnis then hit a potential double play ball, but Baez tried to catch SS Addison Russell's relay throw barehanded and dropped the ball for his second error of the game. However, Hendricks managed to get out of the jam by forcing Lindor to fly out and Mike Napoli to line out. But the game did not stay tied for long as Bryant led off the 4th with a single off Kluber and Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch. Ben Zobrist hit a ground ball to Napoli at first, but he was only able to get Rizzo at second, with Bryant reaching third. Then came an iconic play, as Russell lifted a ball to shallow center, maybe 150 feet from home plate. Davis caught it but Bryant unexpectedly challenged his arm, rushing home and making it safely as his throw to the catcher was high. Chicago now led 2-1, and Zobrist had alertly taken second base on the play. Willson Contreras followed with a double and it was 3-1.
Andrew Miller had been warming up in the bullpen before the 5th inning started, but Terry Francona sent Kluber back to start the inning. He immediately lived to regret it, as on his first pitch, Baez took him deep, redeeming his two errors with a ball that cleared the fence in right center. Miller came in to pitch but Fowler greeted him with a single. However, he was erased when Schwarber grounded into a double play, but like Kluber, Miller was not sharp on that evening. He walked Bryant, who then scored all the way from first base when Rizzo followed with a hit to the right field corner. It was now 5-1, and Cubs fans were starting to feel confident in the outcome of the game. But not so fast: in the bottom of the 5th, Santana drew a two-out walk, which was Joe Maddon's cue to bring in Lester, accompanied by his personal catcher, David Ross, who took over for Contreras. Kipnis was up next, and he tapped a ball 20 feet down the third base line. Ross pounced on it, but threw wildly to first base, allowing both runners to take an extra base. Then with Lindor up, Lester threw a wild pitch, Ross lost his balance trying to block it, the ball rolled towards the first base side of the backstop, and by the time Ross had managed to recover it and throw to Lester who had rushed in to cover the plate, both runners had scored. Suddenly, it was 5-3 in spite of the Indians not having moved the ball out of the infield.
If Baez had redeemed himself an inning earlier, it was now Ross's turn in the 6th. With one out, the veteran who was playing his final major league game took Miller deep to center field, increasing Chicago's lead to 6-3 in what was a Hollywood moment. Meanwhile, after his rough opening, Lester had settled down and pitched a scoreless 6th and 7th, and Cody Allen had taken over for Miller with one out and one on in the top of the 7th. The Cubs went down in order in the 8th, but were only 6 outs away from winning the game. But the Indians put together a magnificent comeback in the bottom of the 8th. After two routine outs, Ramirez hit an infield single. Maddon decided to replace Lester with Aroldis Chapman, who had been heavily taxed over the previous three days. It may or may not have been the result of overuse, but he was a shadow of his normal self. On a full count, Brandon Guyer hit a double which scored Ramirez to cut the lead to 6-4, then the third redemption of the game occurred, this one for Rajai Davis, who drove a 2-2 pitch over the fence in the left field corner. Progressive Field exploded with joy as he circled the bases at a full sprint: Chapman had failed and the game was tied. Crisp was up next, and he singled off Chapman before Yan Gomes ended the inning by striking out.
The Cubs were stunned, but they did not give up. Ross was first up in the top of the 9th and he worked Allen for a walk before giving way to pinch-runner Chris Coghlan. Up next was Jason Heyward who hit a ground ball to Kipnis, who flipped to Lindor for one out, but Coghlan crashed into him and he could not get a throw off to first. The Cubs challenged the play, claiming Coghlan's slide was illegal, but the play was left to stand. Thus, Heyward was at first base, and he took off for second, not only stealing the bag easily but also moving to third on an error charged to Gomes. The Cubs now had the winning run 90 feet away. Francona changed his outfield mid at-bat, bringing in Michael Martinez to play right field, with Guyer replacing Crisp in left, in order to have better throwing arms. He also played his infield in. But in a stunning move, with two strikes on Baez, he was ordered to bunt. The pitch was right down the middle of the strike zone, but he fouled it off, resulting in a strikeout. Fowler then grounded out as rain was now falling down and the inning was over. It was still 6-6. Chapman was back to pitch the bottom of the inning, and while he was working on fumes by then, he got the Indians in order. Extra innings would be needed to decided the game, but before that, the ground crew rolled out the tarp as rain was falling harder.
The rain delay was short however. When the 10th inning started, Schwarber led off with a line drive single to right and was replaced by pinch-runner Albert Almora. Bryant flied out, but Francona decided to issue an intentional walk to Rizzo in order to face Zobrist. The move backfired badly: Zobrist clinched the World Series Most Valuable Player Award with a double to left that scored Almora. Shaw then issued another intentional walk, to Russell, but Miguel Montero, the third catcher in the game for the Cubs, singled to left to score another run. It was now 8-6 and the bases were still loaded. However, Trevor Bauer, called in to replace Allen, struck out Heyward and retired Baez to keep the game within reach. But the Indians had only three outs left. Maddon asked young righty Carl Edwards to save one of the most important games in the Cubs' long history. He struck out Napoli and got Ramirez to ground out to short, but Guyer drew a walk, then advanced to second on defensive indifference. Davis then singled to center, Guyer scored and the Indians had the tying run on base. That was it for Edwards. Lefty Mike Montgomery came in to face Martinez, with the Indians' bench completely depleted. He grounded to third base, and Bryant's throw to Rizzo ended the longest drought in North American sports history.
The Cubs' win was celebrated with one of the biggest parades in the history not just of Chicago, but of the United States, with a crowd estimated at 3 million taking part in the parade organized downtown. The Chicago River was dyed in Cubs blue for the occasion. The Cubs' win was considered by many observers to be the top baseball moment of the decade when retrospective articles on the 2010s were published at the end of 2019.
The winning share for the World Series was $368,871.59, while the losers share was $261,804.65. 66 Cubs players and staff members received full shares. This was slightly below the shares given out after the 2015 World Series.
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- Bob Nightengale: "Decade of sports: Cubs winning 2016 World Series was best moment of the 2010s", USA Today, December 20, 2019. 
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- Tom Verducci: The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, Crown Archetype, Pengui Random House LLC, New York, NY, 2017. ISBN 978-0804190015
|Modern Major League Baseball World Series
Pre-1903 Postseason Series