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The Student Prints

The Student Prints

World Series goes to nail biting game 7

After a long 162-game grind and two nail-biting playoff series victories, two teams stood alone in Major League Baseball on the eve of the 112th World Series. Those teams happened to be the two most tortured franchises in baseball history.

On one side, the underdogs were the scrappy Cleveland Indians, who’d overcome a rash of injuries to terrorize the rest of the American League en route to winning seven of eight games in the postseason. The Indians were seeking to end a multigenerational title drought that spanned seven decades dating to 1948, when the Indians beat the Boston Braves in six games.

And the favorite, stunningly, was a team more long-suffering than Cleveland: The Chicago Cubs, a team renowned for having no world titles since 1908, won 103 regular season games, took care of the San Francisco Giants in the Division Series, and beat the Dodgers in six games to win their first pennant in 1945.

The first game of the “Duel of the Droughts” saw the Indians claim victory in front of a large TV viewing audience. The Tribe was propped up by two first-inning runs as Jose Ramirez smacked a bases-loaded infield single. Brandon Guyer followed this up with a hit-by-pitch, and Cleveland was off to a strong start in the World Series.

The Indians’ Corey Kluber was virtually unhittable, allowing only two hits in six innings of work. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen both came on and combined to close out the Indians’ first Series win since 1997.

In the second game, the Cubs shook off their previous woes and pounded Tribe hurler Trevor Bauer into submission. After Anthony Rizzo’s RBI double in the first, the Cubbies were off and running, and wound up taking a 5-1 decision that evened the series and gave the Cubs their first World Series win since that 1945 Series.

The atmosphere was raucous as the Fall Classic moved to Chicago for Game 3. This proved to be the most exciting game of the Series. Josh Tomlin of Cleveland and Kyle Hendricks of Chicago matched each other blow for blow, although the Indians chased Hendricks into several jams. Cleveland tallied the game’s only run of the night in the seventh on a run-scoring single by Coco Crisp, and then saw Cody Allen pitch out of a critical jam to secure the Indians’ victory.

Game 4 belonged completely to the Tribe, from the top of the first to the bottom of the ninth. Although Chicago took an early lead on a Rizzo single, the Cubs neglected the score for the remainder of the game. Kluber was masterful; it helped that he was backed by homers from Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis. The Indians won 7-1 to move within one win of Cleveland’s second world championship of the year.

But the Cubs rejected the Indians’ request to go quietly into the night with a resounding 3-2 win. A Jose Ramirez homer early staked Cleveland to a 1-0 lead and it appeared the Tribe was poised for a long-awaited party. This was not to be as the Cubbies responded with a three-run fourth inning that chased Bauer. The catalyst was Kris Bryant, as the MVP candidate bashed his first World Series homer that gave the Cubs an advantage they wouldn’t relinquish.

Aroldis Chapman then came on and recorded a remarkable eight-out save, pitching 2 and 2/3 innings as Chicago sealed a 3-2 win, sending the Series back to Cleveland for a climactic final two games of a thrilling Series.

Now, the Cubs needed one win to set up a climactic confrontation in the history of baseball. And Chicago did just that, delivering a 9-3 win Tuesday. A fielding lapse of judgement by Cleveland outfielders Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin paved the way for two runs to score, Addison Russell hit a grand slam, and the Cubbies led 7-0 and never looked back.

And then came Game 7.

Going into Game 7 for the Indians was Corey Kluber, the 2014 Cy Young Award winning hurler, and Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs pitcher who led the National League in ERA. Conventional wisdom held that the Series would turn on pitching, but this was not the case.

The tone for an offensive-minded meeting was set on the first at-bat of the game, as Dexter Fowler gave Chicago a 1-0 lead with a homer to deep center. An Indians’ threat in the third materialized in the form of an equalizing single by Santana to score Crisp, tying the game.

The Cubs made it clear very quickly they came to win by scoring two runs each in the fourth and fifth, including another homer to deep center, this one bashed by Javier Baez, apparently making up for a bad defensive Series.

But the Indians gradually chipped away at the North Siders’ lead. The Tribe scored twice in the fifth to cut the Chicago lead to 5-3. In his final game, Ross went yard to make it 6-3 before the Cleveland eighth.

Two quick outs seemingly brought a world championship within sight for the Cubbies before Ramirez singled. The Cubs’ Joe Maddon summoned his closer, Aroldis Chapman, who gave up an RBI double to Guyer to narrow the lead to two.

Facing Rajai Davis, Chapman gained a seemingly comfortable advantage with a one-two count. After several foul balls, Davis smashed a long fly ball deep into the November night. It landed squarely over the left-field wall, deadlocking the game at 6 and sending the sports world to the edge of its seat.

The ninth came and went and brought with it a rainstorm – a brief one, but one that caused a 17-minute delay and seemed to rattle both teams entering extra innings. The Indians’ Bryan Shaw, whose outing wrapped around the delay, loaded the bases before giving up an RBI single to Ben Zobrist. Another run came across for the Cubs and the Northsiders stood just three outs from victory.

The Indians made it interesting, getting a run on Davis’ RBI single, but ultimately just didn’t have it. Michael Martinez, the final man on Cleveland’s bench, swung at a pitch and weakly tapped it to Bryant. Bryant, with a giddy expression on his face, found Rizzo, bringing down the curtain on baseball’s longest drought and, perhaps, its finest game.

With the win, Chicago exorcised the greatest ghost, the one that had come to define a franchise that had at times whimpered feebly and wallowed in last place on a multitude of occasions. And they did so in perhaps the finest fashion: overcoming a 3 games to 1 deficit against a supposedly unbeatable pitching staff, affirming themselves as the best in baseball and emotionally dismantling a sports town that had built its recent mystique on trumpeting its own comeback from 3 games to 1 down.

As for the Indians – the Tribe must hold its head high, for it was given little chance at even making it to the World Series, let alone sending its deciding game into extra innings. The Indians’ own beat writer, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer, proclaimed their Series hopes dead on arrival after several key late-season injuries. And yet here they were, putting a thrilling, if unfinished, exclamation point on Cleveland’s best sports year since 1948.

The Series and Game 7, which was seen by 40 million to represent baseball’s largest audience since 1991, epitomized all that was good about baseball and sports. And with both teams young, they figure to be back in the mix in 2017 is a sport whose future, thanks to this postseason, is once again as bright as Kris Bryant’s smile.

Patrick Andres, Staff Writer

Check out his online story for Sports Illustrated Kids:

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