CLEVELAND -- The Chicago Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians, 8-7, in Game 7 of the 2016 Fall Classic at Progressive Field Wednesday night to win their first World Series Championship since 1908.
The Cubs took the two-run lead when five of the first six hitters reached base in the top of the 10th inning after a 17-minute rain delay.
Designated hitter Kyle Schwarber led off the inning with a single and was lifted for pinch runner Albert Almora Jr. After first baseman Anthony Rizzo was intentionally walked by Indians reliever Bryan Shaw, left fielder Ben Zobrist delivered the go-ahead hit with an RBI double to left field.
Then, following another intentional walk to shortstop Addison Russell, catcher Miguel Montero smacked an RBI single to left field for the final run of the game.
The Cubs wasted little time in getting after the Indians in Game 7.
After taking the first three pitches from Indians starter Corey Kluber, one strike and two balls, center fielder Dexter Fowler swatted a belt-high pitch just out of the reach of his Cleveland counterpart, Rajai Davis, and over the wall in center field for the lead-off solo homer and a 1-0 Cubs lead.
Fowler’s home run was the 22nd lead-off blast in World Series history.
Down by a 1-0 count after the first batter of the game, the Indians answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the third inning.
Left fielder Coco Crisp got the rally going when he led off the inning with a double down the left-field line on a 1-1 pitch from Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. Then, Crisp moved over to third base when catcher Roberto Perez laid down a sacrifice bunt to Rizzo.
Designated hitter Carlos Santana smacked a single to right field and drove in Crisp for the game-tying run.
Santana moved over to second base when Indians infielder Jason Kipnis grounded a ball to the shortstop. However, on the relay scoop, Cubs second baseman Javier Baez failed to catch the ball cleanly and a replay review overturned the out call.
Although the Indians had something going with the two runners on and one out, shortstop Francisco Lindor and first baseman Mike Napoli lined out to left field and third base respectively to end the threat.
The Cubs responded to the Indians’ run in the bottom of the third inning with two of their own in the top of the fourth and built a 3-1 lead.
Third baseman Kris Bryant ignited the rally with a single to left field, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo was hit by an 0-2 pitch from Kluber.
Although left fielder Ben Zobrist followed with a fielder’s choice, the Cubs still had runners at first and third and only one out. The Cubs elected to gamble on Addison Russell’s short fly out to center field and Bryant slid in underneath the tag from Indians catcher Roberto Perez.
Zobrist came in to score on Willson Contreras’ RBI double to the wall in center field.
While he was much maligned for most of the World Series, Baez smashed a lead-off home run to right-center field in the top of the fifth frame, and his 408-foot blast drove Kluber from the game after just four-plus innings of work.
After Schwarber grounded into a double play, Bryant drew a walk and Rizzo singled him home, which gave the Cubs a 5-1 lead over the Indians.
The Indians cashed in on Chicago mistakes and plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, which cut the deficit down to two, 5-3, with three more at-bats.
After the first two batters went down quickly, Santana drew a walk by taking four straight pitches outside the strike zone after looking at a pair of strikes to start the at-bat. That walk drove Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks out of the game in favor of Jon Lester, Chicago’s starter in Games 1 and 5.
Kipnis reached on a single and advanced to second base on a throwing error by backup catcher David Ross.
Then, with Santana and Kipnis in scoring position, Lester threw a wild pitch that kicked off Ross’ helmet and rolled toward the Cubs’ dugout. Both Santana and Kipnis hustled their way in to score on the wild pitch.
However, in the next half inning Ross atoned for the miscue. On a 1-2 pitch from Cleveland Indians reliever Andrew Miller, Ross smashed a 406-foot home run that gave the Cubs a 6-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning.
Indians outfielder Rajai Davis had just three hits in his first 32 at-bats during the 2016 postseason, but his fourth was an important one, as he belted a two-run home run off Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and tied the game at 6-6.
With outfielder Brandon Guyer on base after an RBI double to right-center field, Davis fouled off four pitches before getting the barrel of the bat on a low fastball and driving it over the wall in left field for the game-tying runs.