Heyward's rain delay pep talk inspires Cubs

Seventeen-minute stoppage might have been break champs needed

Heyward's rain delay pep talk inspires Cubs

CLEVELAND -- The Cubs made it as far as the weight room on the way to their clubhouse at Progressive Field on Wednesday night. They were wet, another band of rain having rolled through and causing what would be a 17-minute rain delay after nine innings of what was shaping into an epic Game 7.

Chicago was dejected after a three-run lead with four outs to go had slipped away from Aroldis Chapman. Retiring veteran catcher David Ross consoled Chapman, whose cheeks were streaked with tears as rain began to fall.

Shop for Cubs World Series champs gear

The Cubs' 10-inning, 8-7 triumph was still one tension-filled inning away.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 25 CLE 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 26 CHC 5, CLE 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 28 CLE 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 29 CLE 7, CHC 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 30 CHC 3, CLE 2 video
Gm 6 Nov. 1 CHC 9, CLE 3 video
Gm 7 Nov. 2 CHC 8 CLE, 7 (10) video

Jason Heyward, the high-priced free-agent pickup who endured a high-profile slump, huddled his teammates together.

"I told them I love them," Heyward said. "I told them I'm proud of the way they overcame everything together. I told them everyone has to look in the mirror, and know everyone contributed to this season and to where we are at this point.

"I said, 'I don't know how it's going to happen, how we're going to do it, but let's go out and try to get a W.'"

They did do it, as you surely have heard by now. Kyle Schwarber, the slugger who didn't have a hit in the regular season but returned from knee surgery in time for the World Series, led off the post-delay action with a single. Albert Almora Jr., the Cubs' first Draft pick of the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer era, who had all of one at-bat in this World Series, took over as a pinch-runner and alertly scampered to second base when Kris Bryant flied out to the warning track.

Maddon on Heyward's speech

After Anthony Rizzo drew an intentional walk, the go-ahead hit came from Ben Zobrist, the soon-to-be Series MVP who signed with the Cubs after winning a ring last year with the Royals. After another intentional walk came another run-scoring hit, this time from Miguel Montero, who essentially had become Chicago's third-string catcher.

Zobrist grinds out go-ahead hit

The pitcher throughout the inning was Indians right-hander Bryan Shaw, who had taken over in the ninth inning and returned after the delay.

Did the wait erase Cleveland's momentum?

"I don't think it really [did]," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "I mean, Bryan Shaw was the guy out there, and of all our guys, he can bounce back probably as good as anybody. Just, [the Cubs] are a good team, and they keep coming at you. That was tough for them. We tied it, and a lot of teams might fold. They didn't. But we didn't either. We ran out of time."

Francona on Game 7 rain delay

The Indians scored a run in the bottom of the 10th, but they stranded the potential tying run on base.

For the Cubs, it was as if the rain washed away 108 years of frustration.

"I really feel like in some ways, that rain delay was kind of divine intervention," said Hoyer, the Cubs' GM. "The game was going really fast for us at that point."

Tarp comes onto the field

"It was the best thing for us," Bryant said. "We all got together in the weight room, we all supported each other. Chapman was a little upset. That guy works his butt off. Jason Heyward led the way, talking us up, getting us ready, and you saw what we did there."

During the delay, Hoyer and Epstein passed the weight room as they headed down to the clubhouse level to meet with officials from Major League Baseball about the weather.

Zobrist on Heyward's speech

"I went downstairs and walked past our weight room. I saw all our players. I got a little concerned about what was going on," Epstein said. "I popped the door open a little bit and they were all saying, 'This is only going to make it sweeter. Let's grind, boys. Let's go.' Sure enough, they went out and scored two runs. That was so appropriate for that group of guys, the year we had, the organization we have."

Hoyer returned to his seat with a good feeling.

"All we had to do was win one inning," he said. "And we did it."

Adam McCalvy has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.