More on Zobrist's go-ahead double, Davis' homer and Lester's relief
By Andrew Simon, Matt Kelly and Manny Randhawa
A total of 39,466 days had passed and the Cubs had played 16,939 games (including the postseason) since the last time they won the World Series on Oct. 14, 1908. But now, finally, Chicago has ended the longest drought without a championship in the history of North American professional sports.
The Cubs are no longer baseball's lovable losers after battling to a dramatic, 8-7 victory in 10 innings over the Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. It's the first time the marquee outside Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914, has read World Series champions. It's the first time that Cubs players will receive a World Series ring, as that custom did not begin until 1922. And Ben Zobrist becomes the team's first World Series MVP, as that award was first handed out in 1955.
The Cubs are the first team since the 2009 Yankees to own the best regular-season record in baseball and go on to win the World Series later that year. In fact, only three teams in the Wild Card Era (beginning in 1995) have followed up baseball's best regular-season record with a championship: the 2016 Cubs, 2009 Yankees and 1998 Yankees.
The Cubs were tested to the very end, blowing an early lead and facing the game-winning run at the plate in the bottom of the 10th before finally winning 2016's final game. As the city of Chicago celebrates a title that many fans thought they would never live to see, here are some facts and figures you should know about an unbelievable Game 7 of the World Series:
A perfect 10!
• This was the fifth winner-take-all World Series game to go extra innings, including a Game 8 in 1912. The previous such game also found the Indians on the losing end, in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series against the Marlins. Meanwhile, the Cubs were the first team to win such a game while playing on the road.
• When Zobrist hit an RBI double in the top of the 10th, he became the third Cubs player to drive in a go-ahead run in extra innings of any World Series game. He was the first since Stan Hack smacked a walk-off double to beat the Tigers in Game 6 of the 1945 Fall Classic.
• After the Indians scored one run off Carl Edwards Jr. to pull within 8-7 in the bottom of the 10th, Mike Montgomery came on to retire Michael Martinez for the final out. The past two World Series-clinching saves now have come in Game 7 from left-handers who had no previous Major League saves, after the Giants' Madison Bumgarner pulled off the same feat in 2014.
Back from the brink
• The Cubs are the sixth team to come back from a three-games-to-one deficit to win the World Series, and the first to do so since the Royals in 1985.
• Chicago is also just the seventh team to rally back from a three-games-to-two deficit to win the World Series by taking Games 6 and 7 on the road. The last team to do that was the "We Are Family" Pirates, who rallied back against the Orioles in 1979.
• After losing nine consecutive World Series Game 7s between 1982-2011, the road team has now won two consecutive winner-take-all games, including the Giants in 2014.
The Tribe strikes back
• The Cubs were just four outs away from winning the World Series when the Indians' Rajai Davis connected on a 2-2 fastball from Aroldis Chapman for a two-run, game-tying home run into the left-field corner. Davis' blast was the latest-occurring game-tying home run in a World Series Game 7.
• Only two players had previously hit a game-tying homer in a winner-take-all Game 7 in the World Series: Ben Oglivie of the Brewers against the Cardinals in 1982 and Del Crandall of the Milwaukee Braves against the Yankees in 1958. Like Davis' Indians, both of those teams went on to lose.
• Davis' homer was the first allowed by Chapman since the Twins' Kurt Suzuki took him deep on June 18, when Chapman was a member of the Yankees.
Away we go
• Dexter Fowler got the contest off to quite a start, hitting the first leadoff home run in a World Series Game 7, and the 11th home run to lead off any Fall Classic game. The last leadoff blast in the top of the first had been hit by the Giants' Gregor Blanco in Game 2 of the 2014 World Series.
• Fowler's home run was only the second homer to lead off a Game 7 in postseason history -- the other was hit by the Astros' Craig Biggio to open Game 7 of the 2004 National League Championship Series off the Cardinals' Jeff Suppan.
Young and old
• When Cubs second baseman Javier Baez led off the fifth inning with a homer that knocked Indians starter Corey Kluber out of the game, he became the second-youngest player to homer in a winner-take-all World Series game. Baez (23), trails only the Yankees' Mickey Mantle, who was 20 in 1952.
• When Cubs catcher David Ross hit a solo home run to center field off vaunted Indians reliever Andrew Miller in the sixth inning, it made Ross (39 years, 228 days) the oldest player to homer in a winner-take-all World Series game. He edged out the Pirates' Willie Stargell, who homered in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series at 39 years, 225 days old.
• If Ross does retire, as he has said he will, he would become the first player in history to homer in a World Series Game 7 in what was the final game of his career.
Oh, so close
• The Indians are now 0-3 in postseason Game 7s, following the 1997 World Series and 2007 ALCS. They have dropped seven straight chances to clinch a postseason series at home, dating back to '97.
• With the Cubs' victory, Cleveland inherits the longest championship drought in the Major Leagues at 68 years. It's the second-longest drought of any team in North American professional sports, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, following the 69-year drought of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.
Odds and ends
• Miller finished with 19 1/3 innings pitched to set an all-time record for most innings thrown by a reliever in a single postseason.
• With the Cubs out-homering the Indians 3-1 in Game 7, the team with more homers in a game finished 27-1 this postseason.
• After becoming a champion with the 2015 Royals, Zobrist is the fourth player to win back-to-back World Series in different leagues, according to Elias.
• When the Cubs' Jon Lester took over with two outs in the fifth inning, it was his first relief appearance since Game 4 of the 2007 American League Championship Series, when then-Red Sox manager Terry Francona used him for three innings -- at Cleveland. Since then, Lester's last 309 appearances had been starts, including the postseason.
• In the fifth inning, a Lester wild pitch scored both Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, marking just the third time that two runs scored on a single wild pitch in the World Series. The last such occurrence came in Game 6 of the 1911 World Series, when two Philadelphia A's scored on a wild pitch by Giants pitcher Rube Marquard.