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For the second straight year a long championship drought will come to an end

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With the Cubs dispatching the Giants and their Even Year Magic last night, they’re now four wins away from being in the World Series for the first time since 1945. They’re eight wins away from winning the World Series for the first time since 1908. You know that already, however, because the 1945-leveled Billy Goat Curse and the year 1908 has been repeated ad nauseam in recent weeks and will be repeated more and more during the NLCS.

But even if the Cubs don’t win another game, we’re still going to have a quite lengthy championship drought come to an end this year. And that’s the case no matter who wins it all. The rundown:

CHICAGO CUBS

Last World Series Win: 1908
Last Pennant: 1945
Last NLCS: 2015

LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Last World Series Win: 1988
Last Pennant: 1988
Last NLCS: 2013

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Last World Series Win: Never
Last Pennant: Never
Last NLCS: 1981, as the Montreal Expos

CLEVELAND INDIANS

Last World Series Win: 1948
Last Pennant: 1997
Last ALCS: 2007

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Last World Series Win: 1993
Last Pennant: 1993
Last ALCS: 2015

As you can see, some of these teams have recent League Championship Series experience, but none of them have even appeared in a World Series in the past 16 years and none of them have won it all since the Blue Jays 23 years ago. It has been 28 years for the Dodgers, 47 years of zero championships for the Expos/Nats franchise, 68 years for the Indians and 108 years for the Cubs. That’s pretty large number of aggregate years of frustration.

This makes it the second year in a row that we’re poised to have a substantial World Series drought ended, as the Royals won for the first time in 30 years and, if they had lost, the Mets would’ve won for the first time in 29. Before that, however, long, drought-ending championships were not annual occurrences, and it wasn’t terribly often that this many teams in the LCS (or in LCS contention in the case of the Dodgers and Nationals) were on the doorstep of making recent history.

The Giants have become common trophy-hoisters in recent years, but in 2010 they ended a 56-year drought. The Yankees and Phillies were in the penultimate round, however, threatening the continuation of their then-recent success.

In 2008 the Phillies stopped 28 years of bleeding, but the Red Sox were in the ALCS. In 2005 the White Sox ended 88 years without a championship by beating an Astros franchise which has still never won it all. They spared us the Angels and Cardinals for that Fall Classic. The year before the Red Sox famously ended an 86 year alleged curse, beating the Yankees in the ALCS and the Cards in the World Series. In 2002 the Angels won their first championship in their 42 seasons by defeating a Giants team which had spent, at that time, 48 years searching.

Before that you have to go back to 1995 when the Braves ended a 38-year drought over an Indians club then working on 47 years of futility. The only other team in the LCS with recent glory that year were the Cincinnati Reds, five years removed from he 1990 title.

In 2015 we would’ve witnessed, at minimum, a 22 year drought end, as the Blue Jays made the ALCS, with the Cubs, Mets and Royals all dealing with their own long journeys through the playoff wilderness. We have that situation once again. That may not be very good news for Giants and Red Sox fans, but it’s a lot of fun for fan bases who have not had reason to celebrate when the season finally ended in recent years. And it’s a lot of fun for those of us who think championship variety is the spice of baseball.

Mike Leake loses perfect game bid on leadoff single in the ninth

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Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.

It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.

The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.

In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.

Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.