The Chicago Cubs have ended 108 years of waiting to claim a first World Series baseball crown since 1908 with a dramatic 8-7 extra innings win over the Cleveland Indians in today's deciding game seven. Left-fielder Ben Zobrist provided the big hit to drive in pinch runner Albert Almora Jr that proved the difference and sent the long-suffering Cubs fans into raptures. Coming back from 3-1 down in the series the Cubs won a sudden death game back home in Chicago on Monday before back-to-back wins yesterday and today in Cleveland. The Cubs, who owned the best regular season record of any team (103-58), looked to have blown the game when they coughed up a 5-1 lead with some questionable managerial decisions by Joe Maddon before they rallied in the 10th inning after a short rain delay.
The win sees the Cubs break what many fans believe in as the Curse of the Billy Goat. The Cubs famously lost the 1945 World Series when the idea of the curse was born. Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis was asked to leave Wrigley Field after the odor from his pet goat was disturbing fans. He responded by claiming "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more," promoting the birth of the curse. Lead-off hitter Dexter Fowler got the visiting side rolling earlier by hitting a home run to right field in the top of the first. The Indians, who had the right to host the deciding game as a result of the American League team's win in the Allstar Game earlier in the season, answered back when Carlos Santana drove in Coco Crisp in the bottom of the third. The Cubs tacked on two more runs in the top of the fourth before second baseman Javier Baez jacked a home run to centerfield in the fifth. Indians ace Corey Kluber managed to get through four innings before manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen. Kluber was pitching his third straight game on short rest - starting games one and four of the series as well as today's decider. The 2014 American League Cy Young winner gave up four runs on six hits without a strike out and looked a little out of gas after a long season. The Cubs started ERA-leader Kyle Hendricks who made it through four and two thirds innings of four-hit baseball. He struck out two and conceded a solitary run when Cubs manager Maddon made the change.
Veteran lefty Jon Lester, who got the vital win in Monday's game five, was the replacement while his preferred catcher David Ross was also introduced to the game. The move immediately back-fired when a wild pitch got away from Ross and two Indians scored to cut the lead to two runs. But Ross, playing in his final major league game after announcing his retirement, produced a memorable moment when he launched a home run to center off the Indians lights-out reliever Andrew Miller. Lester settled down to pitch three innings in relief and protect the 6-3 lead. Flame-throwing Cuban closer Aroldis Chapman, who was acquired from the New York Yankees at the trade deadline, was brought on to get the final out in the eight - a night after getting criticized for over-using his star reliever. After giving up a hit to Brandon Guyer, Chapman gave up a two-run shot to outfielder Rajai Davis to tie the game. The Cubs got a runner to third with one out in the ninth when manager Maddon opted to get Baez to bunt with two strikes against him. He fouled out. Fowler seemed to have pierced the gap up the middle but shortstop Francisco Lindor made a superb play to throw him out at first and get the Indians out of the inning. Maddon took another risk by sending Chapman out for the ninth with a fastball quickly losing velocity and light rain starting to fall. The left-hander responded by sitting the Indians down in order. The umpires had to bring out the tarp however as the rain got heavy and players were forced back to the clubhouse for 15 minutes before a resumption. Kyle Schwarber got a lead off hit in the top of the 10th before the Cubs pinch ran Almora Jr for him. The replacement runner advanced on Kris Byrant's deep fly out to center before a Ben Zobrist hit brought him home. Miguel Montero tacked on another run to make it an 8-6 game. Carl Edwards Jr allowed Guyer to score before Mike Montgomery got the final out for the save.