Game 7’s heroes and goats, inning by inning

Relive all the twists and turns of the climatic game of the 2016 World Series.

Indians relief pitcher Andrew Miller reacts after giving up a home run to Cubs catcher David Ross during the sixth inning of Game 7 of the World Series. AP Photo/Matt Slocum


Game 7 had it all. Joy. Woe. Excellence. Incompetence. Free baseball. Costly miscalculations. Redemption. Rain. A drought. That curse. An Anchorman quote. Unlikely sluggers. Exhausted aces. Evocations of Grady Little. Exultation for Theo Epstein. And, of course, it had Bill Murray.

Over 10 tumultuous innings, plot twists abounded as the narrative unfolded. Heroes emerged, their actions Vine’d and retweeted. Goats blundered, their miscues lambasted on Twitter and meme’d. Some of those goats — not the infamous billy goat allegedly responsible for the Cubs’ 108-year run of bad luck, of course — later earned cheers. Such was the ebb, flow and whoa! of the night.


When it was all over, the Chicago Cubs had defeated the Cleveland Indians, 8-7, to win the 2016 World Series, overcoming a 3-1 series deficit. Here is an inning-by-inning look at the dramatis personae:

1st Inning

The stage was set. The players were in place at Progressive Field for the first pitch not long after 8 p.m. ET, notably Indians pitcher Corey Kluber, who earned the win in games 1 and 4. He was vying to become the first pitcher to start and win three games in a single World Series since Mickey Lolich of the Detroit Tigers in 1968. Then this happened, on his fourth offering of the night.

Hero: Dexter Fowler

Hero: Kyle Schwarber, baserunner

2nd Inning

After surrendering a run to the first batter of the game in a lackluster first inning, Kluber put a zero on the scoreboard for Cleveland in the second, with some help from his defense and the Cubs’ aspiring speedster. In the bottom half, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks reminded everyone that not all pitchers on his staff are incapable of throwing to first.

Hero: Lonnie Chisenhall

Goat: Kyle Schwarber, baserunner 

Hero: Kyle Hendricks

3rd Inning

With the Cubs still holding a 1-0 lead after two innings, veteran outfielder Coco Crisp led off the home third with a double to left. After advancing on a Roberto Perez sacrifice, he scored the game-tying run on a single by Carlos Santana. Following his equalizing RBI, Santana found himself involved in a play at second base that left the umpires and Javier Baez looking bad.


Hero: Coco Crisp

Cleveland's Coco Crisp dives into second after a double against the Cubs during the third inning of Game 7 of the Major League Baseball World Series Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Cleveland’s Coco Crisp dives into second after a double against the Cubs during the third inning.

Goat: Javier Baez and umps

Hero: Instant replay

See above.

4th Inning

The heart of the Cubs’ order broke the tie in the fourth, providing reminders of the potency of Chicago’s offense and the difficulty of pitching a Game 7 on short rest. Hendricks then retired the American League champs in order to preserve a 3-1 lead through four.

Hero: Kris Bryant

Goat: Rajai Davis

Hero: Kyle Hendricks

5th Inning

Like his predecessor in Boston, Terry Francona may have left a trusted starting pitcher on the mound a bit too long in an elimination game. With his Indians already trailing, 3-1, to start the fifth inning, Francona let Kluber begin the frame. That choice was rewarded with a leadoff homer from Chicago’s Javier Baez, redeeming himself for some previous fielding misadventures. Indians relief ace Andrew Miller, the MVP of the American League Championship Series, replaced Kluber following the longball, surrendering an RBI single to Anthony Rizo. Perhaps wanting to avoid a similar mistake, Cubs manager Joe Maddon then pulled his starting pitcher, Hendricks, sooner than many viewers thought was sensible. Maddon brought in the Jon Lester-David Ross battery during the inning, with a runner on first. The early returns did not validate the move.


Hero: Javier Baez

Hero: “The last time the Cubs won the World Series … ” tweets

Goat: Terry Francona

Hero: Anthony Rizzo, David Ross and Anchorman quotes

Goat: Joe Maddon

Goats: Jon Lester and David Ross

Goat: “The last time the Cubs won the World Series … ” tweets

6th Inning

Grandpa Rossy sure knows how to spin a yarn to keep the kids entertained. Playing in his final career game at age 39, Ross produced an improbable home run off Miller, virtually unhittable throughout the postseason ahead of Game 7, not long after taking a wild pitch off his catcher’s mask.

Hero: David Ross

Goat: Andrew Miller

7th Inning

Tension mounted. Pitchers put up zeroes. The Cubs’ 6-3 lead held, looking more formidable with each passing out. One notable fan did his best to rally the hometown fans at Progressive Field.

Hero: J.R. Smith

Hero: Jon Lester

8th Inning

After a shirtless J.R. Smith urged a rally, the Indians set about defending Cleveland’s right to make 3-1 jokes in perpetuity. Maddon pulled Lester with two outs and a runner at first, bringing in Aroldis Chapman, a midseason arrival in Chicago via trade with the New York Yankees. The hard-throwing closer, who missed the first 30 games of the season due to a domestic violence suspension, had thrown 20 pitches in a non-save situation late in Game 6. Anyone believing in curses or karma may have felt relieved when Chapman promptly blew the save opportunity.

Hero: Rajai Davis

Representative Cleveland fan: LeBron James

Goat: Aroldis Chapman

Goat: Joe Maddon

9th Inning

With the score even, 6-6, heading into ninth, Cleveland second baseman Francisco Lindor helped reliever Cody Allen prolong Game 7 with a sterling defensive play in the top half of the frame. Having already blown the save, Chapman did his part, putting himself in position for the win, in the bottom of the ninth before Mother Nature took over for 17 minutes. In between, there was a bunt attempt. Oh, yes, that was a thing with the World Series hanging in the balance.


Hero: Francisco Lindor

Goats: Joe Maddon, Javy Baez and bunting

Rain Delay

With the teams briefly replaced on the field by a tarp, Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward summoned his teammates for an impromptu pep talk. Meanwhile, Twitter made Admiral Ackbar references and marveled at some apparent foresight.

Hero: Jason Heyward

“I told them I love them,” Heyward said. “I told them I’m proud of the way they overcame everything together. I told them everyone has to look in the mirror, and know everyone contributed to this season and to where we are at this point.

“I said, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to happen, how we’re going to do it, but let’s go out and try to get a W.'” []

Hero: Twitter prognosticator @RaysFanGio

Goat: The tarp

10th Inning

With these long and winding nine innings coming at the tail end of that 108-year wait, Ben Zobrist drove in the winning run for the Cubs in the top of the 10th to earn himself World Series MVP honors. In the bottom half, Cleveland would pull back a run against receiver Carl Edwards, Jr. With two outs and the series-tying run on base, Mike Montgomery closed out the long-awaited championship for the Cubs.

Hero: Ben Zobrist

Hero: Anthony Rizzo’s back pocket

Representative Cubs fan: Bill Murray

Goat: Billy Goat Curse

Goat: 3-1 jokes

Goat: The guy with this tattoo


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