Put yourself in the shoes of any player on the Cubs or Indians during Wednesday night’s World Series Game 7. It all comes down to this. Playing for all the marbles. Every mistake is magnified as it could make or break your team’s ability to win it all. I’d be nervous. Most of us would be nervous. So it’s hard to blame the sloppy play we saw in Game 7 on anything other than just being human.
In the bottom of the first inning, Cubs second baseman Javier Baez committed the first of what would be two errors. Francisco Lindor hit a sharp grounder to Baez, positioned just ahead of the outfield grass. He had to go to his right, but he appeared to slip on wet grass and had to make an off-balance throw from one knee to Anthony Rizzo at first base. The throw short-hopped Rizzo, who was unable to corral the ball, allowing Lindor to reach safely. Fortunately for Baez, starter Kyle Hendricks was able to get Mike Napoli to ground out to end the inning.
Jose Ramirez reached base to lead off the bottom of the second, hitting a line drive back up the middle, deflecting off of Hendricks to third baseman Kris Bryant. But Ramirez was quickly erased when Hendricks picked him off during the next at-bat. Lonnie Chisenhall would then single, which all else being equal, would have set up first-and-second with no outs. But Rajai Davis would end the inning by grounding into a 5-4-3 double play.
The Cubs got in on the sloppiness in the top of the third. Kyle Schwarber, who was able to easily steal second base off of starter Corey Kluber in the first inning, must have been feeling good about his wheels. He ripped a single to right field and he decided to try for a double. Chisenhall threw him out at second base for the final out of the frame.
The Indians put themselves on the board in the bottom of the third. Coco Crisp doubled, then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Roberto Perez, and Carlos Santana brought him home with a single to right field. The next batter, Jason Kipnis, hit what appeared to be an inning-ending double play to Russell at shortstop. The ball, however, hit the lip of the grass. Russell was still able to snag the ball but rushed a flip to Baez covering second. Baez tried to barehand the toss, but it clanked off of his hand. Santana was initially ruled out as second base umpire John Hirschbeck thought Baez lost control on the transfer, but Santana was safe upon replay review. Unfortunately, the Indians weren’t able to do anything with the rally as Lindor flied out and Mike Napoli lined out.
In the top of the fourth, the Cubs put runners on first and second to start the inning as Bryant singled and Rizzo was hit by a pitch. Ben Zobrist hit what should have been a 3-6-1 double play, but Napoli made a poor throw to shortstop Francisco Lindor, pulling him off of the bag. Thankfully for him, Lindor was able to touch a millimeter of the second base bag for at least one out, with Bryant advancing to third base. Russell would follow up by hitting a weak fly ball to shallow left-center. Center fielder Rajai Davis caught the ball and Bryant shocked the world by breaking for home. Davis must have been taken aback as well because he hesitated throwing home, then made a high throw to Perez at the plate, allowing Bryant to score. Willson Contreras, the next batter, smoked a line drive to right-center field and Davis misread it, initially breaking in rather than back. It cost him as the ball caromed off of the wall for an RBI double.
The Indians showed signs of life in the bottom of the fifth. After Santana drew a two-out walk, Hendricks exited the game in favor of Jon Lester. Kipnis tapped a grounder a few feet in front of the plate to the left side and Ross pounced on it, but made a throw wide of Rizzo at first base. Santana advanced to third and Kipnis to second. Lester then threw a curve in the dirt that caromed off of Ross towards the first base dugout, allowing Santana to score easily and Kipnis also scored, sliding just ahead of Lester’s tag at home plate to make it 5-3.
The Cubs wound up blowing a 6-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth as closer Aroldis Chapman allowed an RBI double to Brandon Guyer followed by a two-run Davis home run. In the top of the ninth, Ross led off with a walk but was forced out on a Jason Heyward grounder. During Baez’s at-bat with one out, Heyward stole second base, then advanced to third base on a poor throw by Perez. Baez tried to knock Heyward in by bunting with two strikes, but failed.
In case you haven’t felt like reading, a summary of Wednesday night’s miscues:
- Baez makes a poor throw to first base
- Ramirez picked off of first base
- Schwarber thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double
- Baez, at second base, drops toss from Russell getting zero outs instead of at least one
- Napoli makes a poor throw to second base, getting one out instead of two
- Davis hesitates, then makes poor throw home, allowing Bryant to score
- Davis misreads line drive hit by Contreras, becoming an RBI double instead of a fly out
- Ross makes poor throw after retrieving a weak grounder
- Ross can’t block Lester’s curve in the dirt, allowing two runs to score
- Heyward takes an extra base while stealing on a poor throw by Perez
- Baez bunts foul to strike out with a runner on third base and one out
That’s a lot of mistakes, but it made for a fun game where neither team truly seemed out of it, even when the Indians were down four runs. When all was said and done, the Cubs were better able to capitalize on the mistakes the Indians made and the Indians didn’t capitalize on enough of their opportunities. So it goes. The Cubs, winners of Game 7 by an 8-7 score, are your 2016 World Series champions.