CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The Chicago Cubs shed themselves of the “Curse of the Billy Goat” and ended a 108-year wait for a World Series title by beating the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday in a thrilling Game Seven classic.
By beating the host Indians 8-7 in 10 innings, Chicago’s beloved Cubbies set off a wild celebration in the streets of the Windy City after over a century of pent up frustration for fans since their last Major League Baseball championship in 1908.
Cubs players held their own euphoric party at Progressive Field cheered on by a boisterous contingent of their fans after earlier squandering a 6-3 lead with four outs left in the game only to bounce back for the precious victory.
“This is one of the best games anybody will ever see,” said Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, who fielded Michael Martinez’s grounder and fired it to first for the final out. “This trumps everything. I‘m out here crying. I can’t really put into words what this means.”
Leftfielder Ben Zobrist, who put the Cubs ahead in the 10th with an RBI double and who batted .357 in the series with two doubles and a triple, was named the most valuable player of the World Series.
The win in the early hours of Thursday morning capped a Chicago comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven, a feat last achieved by the Kansas City Royals in 1985.
It was the third World Series crown for the Cubs, while the disconsolate Indians replaced them as the team with the longest current World Series title drought, 68 years and counting.
“I don’t know but it happened,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. “Chicago, it happened. We did it, we’re world champions.”
The Cubs, whose quiet bats woke up in Tuesday’s 9-3 Game Six win, picked up where they left off with three home runs in front of an audience surprisingly crowded with their raucous blue-clad fans who paid handsomely to buy tickets on the resale market.
With chants of “Let’s Go Cubbies” ringing through Progressive Field, Chicago charged to a 5-1 lead and carried a 6-3 advantage into the eighth when Cubs manager Joe Maddon summoned closer Aroldis Chapman with two outs and a man on.
But the Cuban fireballer, who pitched 2-2/3 innings on Sunday and another inning and a third on Tuesday, gave up a run-scoring double to Brandon Guyer and a two-run homer to Rajai Davis that tied the game and ignited an explosion of cheers from the Cleveland faithful.
Rain began falling in the ninth and play was halted before the start of the 10th to cover the field before extra innings resumed 17 minutes later.
With Bryan Shaw on the mound and two on base with one out, Zobrist reached out and slapped a shot past diving third baseman Jose Ramirez to snap the tie and Miguel Montero singled home another run to make it 8-6.
Carl Edwards started the 10th for Chicago but the irrepressible Indians staged another rally, drawing within one run on an RBI-single from Davis.
In came lefthander Mike Montgomery, who induced Martinez to ground out and launch the celebration with thousands of Cubs supporters staying on to sing the “Go Cubs Go” team song after the four hour 28 minute battle.
The downcast Indians could only watch from the dugout steps.
“That was an incredible game, I mean, to be a part of it,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. “It’s going to hurt. It hurts because we care, but they need to walk with their head held high because they left nothing on the field.”
Editing by Frank Pingue