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2016 World Series: Indians fall short to Cubs in Game 7, but Cleveland sports fans remain optimistic

By Michael Beaven Published: November 3, 2016

CLEVELAND: Baseball fans wearing Indians and Cubs jerseys and hats wondered around Progressive Field and the streets of Cleveland after midnight early Thursday amazed at what they just witnessed.

The Cubs snapped their 108-year World Series title drought by clinching the 2016 crown with an 8-7 win in 10 innings over the Indians.

Game 7 lasted nearly four and a half hours, and featured a rain delay and dramatic home runs hit by Dexter Fowler, David Ross and Javier Baez of the Cubs and Rajai Davis of the Indians.

“The most amazing part of this run is that we didn’t have our No. 2 and No. 3 starter throughout the entire playoffs,” Indians fan Peter Pudner said in reference to injuries that kept Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar out of the rotation.

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Cubs 8, Indians 7: Ryan Lewis’ 32 Walk-Off Thoughts on a wild Game 7 and an improbable October

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 3, 2016

Here are 32 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians fell to the Chicago Cubs 8-7 in Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night.

1. The Indians came so close. So very painfully close. When, really, they weren’t supposed to be anywhere near the the World Series. The Indians were supposed to be a good team that lost too much from its active roster and succumbed to the Boston Red Sox’s league-best offense, or the Toronto Blue Jays, and surely to the Cubs well before Game 7.

2. But there was Rajai Davis lining a two-run home run to left field, completing a three-run comeback in the eighth. There were the Indians, in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 in the World Series, up to bat in a tied ballgame.

3. That’s the lasting impression of the Indians’ 2016 postseason. That Terry Francona, a couple of healthy starters and the bullpen took a team without its No. 2 and No. 3 starters—both Cy Young contenders—and its No. 3 hitter to within one more run, play, pitch of winning it all. They pushed until the meter was full, then pushed some more.

4. The Indians played the last month with their backs against the wall, proving Vegas wrong along the way. They fought, clawed, scrapped their way to extra innings in Game 7 while throwing their starters in Games 4, 5, 6 and 7 on short rest. They were able to get through October. But they couldn’t add November, too.

5. Cody Allen was upset with the loss but looked at it from both sides. He sounded as if he’d start the regular season today if Major League Baseball would let him. He wants another crack at it. It’ll be along wait until February.

6. Said Allen, “We're going to have Brantley back. We're going to have Danny back, Carlos back. The season's been over for 40 minutes and we're chomping at the bit to show up in Arizona. I can honestly say, I am ready to get to Arizona, because I want to get this thing started again.”

7. It was a quiet Indians’ clubhouse after the loss. Allen was dejected, of course. He was also proud of how the Indians fought back.

8. Said Allen, “It stinks. It absolutely stinks right now, but I couldn't be more proud of every guy in this room. We were so close to winning that whole thing, but we just ran into a buzzsaw. You look at the arms they were running out there, their lineup top to bottom, that is a really, really good team. That's probably going to go down as one of the better teams in baseball history. They won 103 games in a really tough division. We were on the losing end of it, but that's going to probably be looked at as one of the greatest World Series of all-time. It absolutely stinks right now, but we didn't go out there and beat ourselves. We just got beat by a really good team.”

9. Kipnis echoed that sentiment, saying, “ "There is nothing for us to hang our heads about. We fought our asses off the whole time. We overcame every single thing they could throw at us. We had injuries. We had you name it, and  not once did we use it as an excuse. All we did was put our noses to the ground and kept fighting. We took a very good ballclub to extra innings of Game 7 of the World Series so I don't think I’ll be hanging my head for too long. I'm very proud of what we've done.”

10. The Indians are in a fairly unique position of being able to have a successful postseason without winning it all. They were effectively playing with house money and, surely, less than full deck. Kluber, Tomlin, Bauer, Miller, Shaw and Allen held the weight of an entire pitching staff on their shoulders as long as they could against three of baseball’s better lineups.

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Proud Indians hope to follow Royals' model, win World Series next year

By Marla Ridenour Published: November 3, 2016

CLEVELAND: There were no heads hanging in the Indians' clubhouse.

No players sitting facing their lockers, trying to comprehend what happened.

They'd lost 8-7 in 10 innings to the Chicago Cubs Wednesday night in Game 7 of the World Series, blowing a 3-1 Series lead.

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Indians fall to Chicago Cubs 8-7 in extra innings in wild, historic game 7

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 2, 2016

The Indians’ wild, improbable ride through October has ended, and their bid to give Cleveland its second championship parade this year came up just short.

The Indians nearly pulled off one of the great comebacks in World Series history Wednesday night, erasing a three-run deficit in the eighth. But, in extra innings, the Cubs finally got the best of them, and the Indians couldn’t respond a second time in an 8-7 loss in Game 7 of the World Series.

Four and a half months after the pure elation of the Cavaliers’ title, Cleveland fans felt a kind of pain on the reverse end of the spectrum, a dream season falling just short, and the second time in 19 years a World Series Game 7 ended in heartbreak.

True to form, the Indians were down most of the night but fought back. They trailed the Cubs 6-3 with only four outs to go and with Aroldis Chapman on the mound, time quickly running out and Cubs fans counting down the minutes until their celebration could begin.

Then, absolute bedlam.  

With Jose Ramirez on first, Brandon Guyer ripped a double to center field to cut the Cubs’ lead to 6-4. That was nothing for what was to come.

Rajai Davis, who received the start over Tyler Naquin, then drilled a two-run home run to the Home Run Porch in left field to tie it 6-6, pulling off an improbable comeback in the eighth inning of Game 7. Progressive Field rocked. The Indians, trailing nearly the entire night, once again had defied the odds.

A throwing error by Yan Gomes in the top of the ninth put the go-ahead run on third with one out. Bryan Shaw struck out Javier Baez on a failed bunt attempt, and Francisco Lindor made a terrific play up the middle to keep it tied and send it to the bottom of the ninth.

But, the Indians couldn’t put anything together against Chapman. After a short rain delay, the Cubs put the finishing touches on their dream season in the top of the 10th inning.

With two runners on and one out, Ben Zobrist sent a double down the left-field line off Shaw to put the Cubs up 7-6. Miguel Montero then added an RBI-single, the decisive blow in a heavyweight fight for the title.

But, the Indians kept fighting in the 10th. Guyer reached first with a two-out walk, took second base and then scored on Davis’ RBI-single to center field. The Cubs then turned to Mike Montgomery to face Michael Martinez, who grounded out to end it.

With that, the Cubs mobbed each other behind the mound, and a 108-year drought was ended while the Indians were denied their perfect ending.

The Cubs took the lead on the fourth pitch of the game, instantly sending a ripple through the Progressive Field crowd, which featured plenty of Chicago fans. Corey Kluber left a 2-1 offering over the middle of the plate, and Dexter Fowler hammered it for a solo home run to dead center field.

It was the first leadoff home run in Game 7 of the World Series in baseball history and the first leadoff home run Kluber had allowed all season.

The Indians came back to tie it in the third. Coco Crisp opened the inning with a double to left field and scored on Carlos Santana’s RBI-single just over the glove of Anthony Rizzo and into right field.

But for the first time in the postseason, a lineup was able to knock around Kluber, in part thanks to further poor defensive play by the Indians’ outfield in the series.

Kris Bryant opened the fourth with a single and Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch. With runners on the corners and one out, Addison Russell sent a fly ball to shallow center field. Davis’ throw home forced Perez to leap in the air just enough to allow Bryant to slide under the tag and put the Cubs up 2-1.

Willson Conteras then drove a double off the wall in center field to add another run in the inning. Davis might have had a play on it but took a step in before charging back to the wall.

Kluber’s first pitch in the fifth inning was crushed by Javier Baez for a solo home run, giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead as Hendricks continued to pitch well and Jon Lester, the Game 5 starting pitcher, warmed in the Cubs’ bullpen.

The Cubs continued to add on against Andrew Miller. With Rizzo at the plate, he and Bryant expected a hit-and-run to perfection. Bryant took off and Rizzo lined a ball into right field for an RBI-double.

It put the Cubs up 5-1 against the two pitchers the Indians rode through the postseason, in part stunning the home crowd.

The Indians punched back in the bottom of the fifth with some help by the Cubs. Carlos Santana walked and Jason Kipnis singled, with both advancing on an error by Davis Ross. With both in scoring position, a wild pitch by Lester bounced away from Ross, hitting off his mask and easily allowing Santana to score. As the ball trickled away, Kipnis charged around third as well, diving head-first just ahead of the throw to cut the Cubs’ lead in half and make it 5-3 with a play reminiscent of Kenny Lofton’s famous dash from second in the 1995 ALCS against Seattle.

Ross answered in the top of the sixth by taking Miller deep to center field, blasting a solo home run to again extend the Cubs’ lead out to 6-3. Kluber and Miller combined to allow six runs on 10 hits and struck out only one batter in 6 1/3 innings pitched, a sharp reversal from their postseason performances prior to Wednesday night.

But, the 2016 Indians as a club stayed true to their nature, punching back until time finally ran out.

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Notebook: Rajai Davis starts in center field over Tyler Naquin in Game 7

By Ryan Lewis Published: November 2, 2016

After the miscues in the outfield in Game 6, Rajai Davis received the start in center field over Tyler Naquin in Game 7.

Naquin, a rookie, played a role in a two-run misplay in the Indians’ Game 6 loss.

“I think Nake’s pressing a little bit,” Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to Wednesday’s Game 7. “And during the regular season, it’s one thing where you kind of maybe let him get through it. I just don't know that, with one game left, and Kluber’s pitching, just trying to put a premium on making sure we catch the ball and also, we need to score.”

The Indians also were preparing to see left-handed closer Aroldis Chapman and potentially left-handed starting pitcher Jon Lester out of the bullpen in the all-hands-on-deck situation of a decisive Game 7. Davis would be the likely candidate to receive those at-bats.

“Raj, he’s going to be in there anyway,” Francona said. “I just thought you can tell [Naquin] is pressing a little bit. Nobody has a crystal ball. It’s not punishment, it’s just trying to win.”

Ratings boost

Per SportsBusiness Daily, Tuesday night’s Game 6 of the World Series on Fox drew 23.4 million viewers. It was the highest-rated Game 6 since, coincidentally, the 1997 World Series between the Indians and Florida Marlins, which drew 23.7 million viewers.

Not-so-sweet dreams

Francona doesn’t always sleep well before games, particularly in the postseason. His late-night adventures this World Series continued prior to Game 7.

A few nights ago in Chicago, Francona ordered $44 worth of room-service ice cream at 3:30 in the morning. In an impressive feat, he finished the order but has since had to stay away from it.

On Tuesday night, Francona had a nightmare and woke up in pain. But, it wasn’t as bad as it originally seemed as he was yanked out of his sleep.

“Unfortunately, this is true. I had a nightmare—I mean a nightmare—that somebody broke my ribs,” Francona said. “That was the nightmare. And I woke up, and my ribs hurt. And I rolled over. I had fallen asleep on the remote control. But I mean it was sticking [in there]. I got up and I was like, what the F***? It was like a big mark. And for about an hour, I was like, I wonder if I broke my rib.”

But, that wasn’t all.

“And I had like, peanut butter, was on my glasses. It was a bad night, man,” Francona said, laughing.  

Francona often becomes so busy with his managerial duties during the day that he doesn’t have a chance to eat until later at night. At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, he still hadn’t eaten.
“I just either forgot or whatever, I got too busy,” Francona said. “So normally when a game starts, I’ll think, ‘OK, you know what, I’ll have a salad tonight.’ By the seventh inning, I’m like, ‘Man, I want everything greasy I can find.’ Then it just escalates from there.”

First pitch

Indians 2016 Hall-of-Fame inductee Jim Thome threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game 7. He joined other Indians greats to throw out the ceremonial first pitches at Progressive Field in the World Series, including Kenny Lofton (Game 1), Carlos Baerga (Game 2) and Dennis Martinez (Game 6).

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Chicago closer Aroldis Chapman protects five-run lead in Game 6, which Cubs win 9-3

By Michael Beaven Published: November 2, 2016

CLEVELAND: More than a few spectators and baseball analysts were surprised to see Cubs left-handed relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman stride towards the mound Tuesday night at Progressive Field to protect a five-run lead.

Cubs right-handed starter Jake Arrieta pitched effectively over 5 2/3 innings, limiting the Indians to three hits and two runs. Manager Joe Maddon called on Mike Montgomery to get the next three outs, and then turned the ball over to Chapman with the Cubs up 7-2 with two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh inning.

After the Cubs earned a 9-3 victory over the Indians to even the World Series at three games apiece, Maddon was asked why he made the decision to bring in his closer in a non-save situation, and his answer made sense.

“The middle of the batting order was coming up, [Francisco] Lindor, [Mike] Napoli, [Jose] Ramirez possibly,” Maddon said. “I thought the game could have been lost right there if we did not take care of it properly. . . . If you don’t get through that [part of the Indians batting order], there is no tomorrow.”

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