This piece, written by Baseball Prospectus’s Ashley Varela, forms part of the main site’s comprehensive coverage of the postseason, “Playoff Prospectus”.
One hundred and eight years after the Cubs last held the title of World Champions, 212 days after the first pitch of the 2016 season, and 26 days after the Cubs took the postseason by storm, Game 7 of the World Series unfolded exactly as predicted: with a rain-delayed, three-homer, 10-inning, heart-pounding win.
Defensive miscues accounted for three baserunners. Jon Lester gave up two runs on a wild pitch. David Ross took Andrew Miller deep for the last home run of his career. Rajai Davis tied the game on a two-run shot off of Aroldis Chapman in the eighth. Javier Baez botched a safety squeeze attempt in the ninth. A rainstorm kept the tarp on the field for 17 minutes. J.R. Smith ripped his shirt off.
Javier Baez engineered a home run into the center field bleachers as well, picking on a first-pitch slider from Kluber in the fifth inning, but it was veteran catcher David Ross whose homer struck the loudest chord with the crowd.
Down 2-1 in the count, Ross obliterated the second heater he saw from the once-invincible Andrew Miller, blasting it 402 feet into the center field seats for the last home run of his major-league career.
Where Miller excelled in almost every postseason appearance, he faltered in the last gasp of the Indians’ 2016 run, allowing five baserunners and giving up two runs in 2 1/3 innings. (His 19 1/3 innings, however, will still be entered in the history books as the most by a reliever in a single postseason run.)
Dexter Fowler figured out Miller’s signature fastball-slider combo in the fifth inning, as did Anthony Rizzo. Ross returned a 94.7 mph fastball for a home run, and Fowler’s second base hit in the seventh spelled the beginning of the end for the left-hander. His lone strikeout of Kris Bryant made Game 7 his second 2016 postseason appearance with just one strikeout, and the first such outing he’d seen in the World Series.
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Lead photo courtesy of Ken Blaze—USA Today Sports