World Series

MLB Playoffs: Dodgers crush Cubs to reach 1st World Series in 29 years

uspresswire-dodgers-team-celebrate.jpg
USA Today Images

MLB Playoffs: Dodgers crush Cubs to reach 1st World Series in 29 years

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an L.A. story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs -- matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik?. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

Out with a bang
Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

Lights out
Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.

Millions in Chicago celebrate World Series champion Cubs with parade, rally

Millions in Chicago celebrate World Series champion Cubs with parade, rally

CHICAGO — November blazed like dazzling springtime in Chicago during a massive parade and rally Friday to honor the Cubs' first World Series title in 108 years and fulfill more than a century of pent-up dreams.

A new generation of Cubs fans — riding in strollers or on their parents' shoulders — joined their elders to cheer the baseball champions. For the youngest, the day would be their first bright memory of following a club once known as "lovable losers."

Their parents marveled at how their children will know the confident, young team as winners.

"It's a whole new Cubs world," said Dean Anderson, 51, of Chicago, who brought his 10-year-old son, Chase, to see the players' motorcade as it rolled out from Wrigley Field at the start of the parade route. The "lovable loser thing" — and all the accompanying lore embroidered by long-suffering fan loyalty — may be lost to the newest fans, Anderson said, but "we've had enough of that."

A crowd, estimated by city officials at 5 million, lined Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive to cheer the motorcade of open-roofed buses carrying the players along a 7-mile parade route from the north side ballpark to sprawling Grant Park. The city's tally included everyone who lined the route and the rally throngs. Friday was already a scheduled day off for Chicago Public Schools.

Revelers crawled up trees and streetlight poles to get a better view along the route. Others sat atop shoulders to watch the team buses shimmering under a spray of red and blue confetti.

Steve Angelo of Chicago carried his 4-year-old son, Nicholas, who held a "World Champs" sign.

"For him, the more and more they win now, at his earlier age, the more and more excitement there is," Angelo said. "There's parades, and people talk about it more on the radio and TV. It's going to be a lot more exciting now."

During the jubilant festivities at the park, 39-year-old retiring Cubs catcher David Ross posed for a selfie in front of a multitude of roaring fans.

Ross and the other players put their arms around each other and sang "Go Cubs Go" from the stage along with the blissed-out crowd.

"It happened, baby. It happened!" proclaimed 27-year-old first baseman Anthony Rizzo to adoring cheers.

Team manager Joe Maddon — wearing a stocking cap, sunglasses and a jersey over a "We did not suck" T-shirt — looked out over a sea of blue.

"Welcome to Cubstock 2016!" Maddon said. "This is an incredible moment for all of us. Never have I experienced anything like Wrigley Field on a nightly basis. ... I want to congratulate you fans also. Thank you for being so patient."

A victory party is new territory for stoical fans of the Cubs, whose last World Series title — before their Game 7, extra-inning thriller Wednesday night in Cleveland — came in 1908. The last time the Cubs even reached the Fall Classic was in 1945.

Superstitions die hard. Miriam Santiago, 51, said she carried holy water, her rosary and a bright green lucky baseball with her during the playoffs. On Friday, the Chicago woman brought a goat mask with dynamite in its mouth and let other fans pose for photos wearing it outside the ballpark. Her lucky charms helped reverse the Curse of the Billy Goat, she said, referring to the story of a Chicago tavern owner who supposedly put a hex on the team after his pet goat was turned away from Wrigley during the 1945 World Series.

For days, Cubs mania has spread throughout the city and state. The cast of the Chicago production of "Hamilton" led a sold-out audience in singing "Go Cubs Go" during the Thursday night curtain call. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner declared Friday as "World Champion Chicago Cubs Day" statewide. The city dyed the Chicago River a bright shade of blue to match the Cubs' colors, repurposing a decades-long tradition of dyeing the river green on St. Patrick's Day.

Far from being sad about bidding their team farewell for the year, fans looked forward to the future.

Outfielder Kyle Schwarber, 23, took the microphone Friday and put it into words for the fans: "I love you guys. We're world champs. Let's do it again next year."

Indians fans must again wait until next year after World Series loss

Indians fans must again wait until next year after World Series loss

BOX SCORE

CLEVELAND -- Kris Bryant started to smile even before he fielded the ball. And with his throw to first for the final out, the agonizing wait `til next year was over at last.

No more Billy Goat, no more Bartman, no more black-cat curses.

For a legion of fans who waited a lifetime, fly that W: Your Chicago Cubs are World Series champions.

Ending more than a century of flops, futility and frustration, the Cubs won their first title since 1908, outlasting the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings of a Game 7 thriller early Thursday.

They even had to wait out an extra-inning rain delay to end the drought.

"It happened. It happened. Chicago, it happened," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said after gloving the ball for the final out. "We did it. We're world champions. I tell ya, we're world champions. I can't believe it."

Rizzo put that final ball in his pocket , David Ross got carried off the field by his teammates and Bill Murray partied in the clubhouse.

And the whole time, blue-clad fans who traveled from Wrigley Field filled nearly the entire lower deck behind the Chicago dugout at Progressive Field, singing "Go, Cubs, Go!" in rain. They held up those white flags with the large blue "W" on a night many of their forebears had waited for in vain.

Lovable losers for generations, the Cubs nearly let this one get away, too. All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman blew a 6-3 lead with two outs in the eighth when Rajai Davis hit a tying, two-run homer.

But the Cubs, after tormenting their fans one more time, came right back after a 17-minute rain delay before the top of the 10th.

Ben Zobrist hit an RBI double and Miguel Montero singled home a run to make it 8-6. Davis delivered an RBI single with two outs in the bottom half, but Mike Montgomery closed it out at 12:47 a.m., and the celebration was on.

"I think about so many millions of people giving so much love and support to this team for so many years," said owner Tom Ricketts, who family bought the team in 2009.

Manager Joe Maddon's team halted the longest title drought in baseball, becoming the first club to overcome a 3-1 Series deficit since the 1985 Kansas City Royals.

"This is an epic game. It's epic. I can't believe we were able to do it -- 108 years in the making," Zobrist said. "We did it."

"They never quit, either," Zobrist said. "They kept coming at us."

Cleveland was trying to win its first crown since 1948, but manager Terry Francona's club lost the last two games at home.

World Series favorites since spring training, Chicago led the majors with 103 wins this season.

The Cubs then ended more than a century of misery for their loyal fans -- barely. Bryant, one of Chicago's young stars, began to celebrate even before fielding a grounder by Michael Martinez to third base and throwing it across to Rizzo for the last out.

"It's the best rain delay of all-time," Rizzo said.

Zobrist was chosen as the World Series MVP, a year after he helped the Royals win the championship. Zobrist was among the players brought to the Cubs by Theo Epstein, the baseball guru who added another crown to his collection. He also assembled the Red Sox team that broke Boston's 86-year drought with the 2004 championship.

From Curse of the Bambino to the Billy Goat Curse, he ended another jinx.

"We don't need a plane to fly home," Epstein said. "It's fitting it's got to be done with one of the best games of all time."

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward had called a meeting during the rain delay, talking to his teammates in the weight room.

"I just had to remind everybody who we are, what we've overcome to get here," he said.

While Cubs fans hugged with delight, there was only despair for the Indians, who now have gone longer than anyone without a crown. In the Indians' previous World Series appearance, they were a double-play grounder from winning the 1997 title before losing Game 7 in 11 innings to the Marlins.

"It's going to hurt. It hurts because we care, but they need to walk with their head held high because they left nothing on the field," Francona said.

Earlier this year, LeBron James and the Cavaliers ended Cleveland's 52-year championship drought by overcoming a 3-1 deficit to beat Golden State for the NBA title. James and teammates were in a suite, rooting hard, as the Indians absorbed the same blow as the Warriors.

After defeating San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs, Chicago became the first team to earn a title by winning Games 6 and 7 on the road since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.

Dexter Fowler homered on Corey Kluber's fourth pitch of the game, 23-year-old Javier Baez and the 39-year-old Ross -- set to now retire -- also went deep for the Cubs, who led 5-1 in the fifth inning and 6-3 in the eighth.

Chapman wound up with the win, and Montgomery got one out for his first save in the majors.

Bryan Shaw, who gave up a leadoff single to Kyle Schwarber in the 10th, took the loss in just the fourth Game 7 that went to extra innings.

Albert Almora Jr., pinch-running for Schwarber, alertly took second on Bryant's long fly to center. Rizzo was intentionally walked, and Zobrist slapped an opposite-field double past a diving third baseman Jose Ramirez. Montero singled to make it a two-run lead.

Then in the bottom half, Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Mike Napoli, Ramirez grounded out, Brandon Guyer walked and Davis hit an RBI single. Montgomery took over, and helped set off a wild celebration on Chicago's North Side.

Cubs jumped on each other between the mound and second base, and their fans in the stands kept cheering.

Twenty-one other teams had won the World Series since Cubs last were champions. They reached the top again on the 39,466th day after Orval Overall's three-hit shutout won the 1908 finale at Detroit in a game that took 1 hour, 24 minutes -- this latest Game 7 lasted 4:24, not including the rain delay.

Back then, Theodore Roosevelt was president, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states, and the first Ford Model T car was two weeks old.

The Cubs were last champions when Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance won consecutive titles in 1907-08, until now the only ones in team history. The Cubbies had not even reached the Series since 1945.

This one was for Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams, who never reached the postseason.

For Gabby Hartnett, Ryne Sandberg and Greg Maddux, whose October runs fell short.

For Lee Elia and the "nickle-dime people" who spent so many wind-swept afternoons in the Friendly Confines watching loss after loss.

For Bill Veeck, who planted ivy vines against Wrigley Field's outfield walls.

For William Sianis, the Billy Goat Tavern owner said to have proclaimed when he was asked to leave Wrigley with his pet during the `45 Series: "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more."

For Steve Bartman, whose life was upended when he tried to catch a foul ball as the Cubs came apart in the 2003 playoffs.

And for Harry Caray, who promised viewers after the 1991 finale that "sure as God made green apples, someday the Chicago Cubs are going to be in the World Series."

Maddon, hired before the 2015 season, won his first Series title after establishing a loose clubhouse that featured at times Warren the pink flamingo, Simon the magician and the motto: "Try not to suck."

"It was just an epic battle," Zobrist said. "Just blow for blow, everybody playing their heart out. The Indians never gave up, either, and I can't believe we're finally standing, after 108 years, finally able to hoist the trophy."

Pen pals
This was the first World Series in which no starting pitcher got at least one out in the seventh inning, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The only other in which no starter finished at least seven innings was in 2002, when San Francisco's Russ Ortiz threw 6 1/3 innings in Game 6.

Up next
Cleveland's spring training opener is scheduled for Feb. 26 against the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona.