“…neither the Cubs nor their clients were able to escape the fact that they had failed for the seventh successive time in a quest for a world’s championship.”
“They’ll be back for more, however. They always have come back. They always will, for, as was set forth ‘way back yonder, if National League Baseball can’t always get along with the Cubs, neither can it get along for long without them.”
–Warren Brown; The Chicago Cubs, Chapter 36: “World’s Worst Series”; 1946.
By Shane Nicholson
The 2016 Chicago Cubs entered Game 5 of the World Series with a century-plus of hope and despair riding on their shoulders. Jon Lester gave them just enough to see this series return to Cleveland as the Cubs took the potential elimination game 3-2.
Jose Ramirez struck for the Cleveland nine in the top of the second, sending a Lester offering into the left field bleachers, his first home run of the postseason. And Cleveland Trevor Bauer looked to have recovered from his shaky outing in Game 2, coasting through the first three innings with minimal effort and providing plenty of worry for a Cubs team that had scored just two runs since the series came to Wrigley Field.
But Kris Bryant stepped in to lead off the Cubs’ half of the fourth with the third baseman sending a 1-0 pitch 382 feet into the basket in left-center field to level the game.
In need of a moment.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 31, 2016
Anthony Rizzo followed with double off the indent in right field, the left-to-right breeze robbing the Cubs of back-to-back blasts.
Rizzo’s effort would not be in vain as Ben Zobrist sent a 3-0 pitch to right field, and Addison Russell followed with a swinging bunt that scored the Cubs’ first baseman and left two runners on. Jason Heyward struck out before a struggling Javy Baez bunted for a single to load the bases with one out.
Catcher David Ross, playing what will likely be the final game of his career, sent a fly ball to deep left allowing Zobrist to score what would ultimately prove the deciding run. Lester would strike out with two left on before retaking the mound in the fourth.
The lefthander would make it through six innings, giving up a second run in his final frame in what has become a familiar fashion for Cubs fans. Rajai Davis, featuring in centerfield for Game 5, lined a one-out base hit to left before stealing second off the Lester-Ross battery. Francisco Lindor would send a two-out fastball to center just out of reach for the outstretched Dexter Fowler, cutting the Cubs’ lead to one.
Aroldis Chapman would enter with one out and a runner on the seventh, asked to record the final eight outs to give the Cubs a chance in Cleveland. He would oblige, giving the Wrigley hopeful the promise of another day in this 2016 season.
Bryant became the first Cubs player to record a home run and a stolen base in a single World Series game. His solo shot was also the first game-tying home run for a Cubs player in the World Series.
With his sac-fly in the fourth, Ross became the oldest catcher to ever drive in a run in a World Series.
And, for the more random among us, the Indians owner the last time they won the World Series was also the man responsible for planting the ivy at Wrigley Field, the Hall of Famer, Bill Veeck.
Game 6 of the World Series comes to you Tuesday, 7:08 p.m. from Progressive Field in Cleveland, where perhaps Chicago’s best bat in this series, Kyle Schwarber, can return to the middle of the Cubs’ lineup as the DH.
We will once again have complete coverage on the off-day as we wait to see if the Cubs can clinch their first world championship since 1908.