Fans give Cubs a taste of home in Cleveland

Fans give Cubs a taste of home in Cleveland

CLEVELAND -- They’ve represented well all season, so it didn’t surprise Cubs players when the team’s fans made their presence felt at Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

Though they were outnumbered, at times Cubs fans gave the visiting team the feel of a home-field advantage at Progressive Field.

The Cubs made the most of the opportunity with an 8-7 victory in 10 innings over the Cleveland Indians that sent their faithful into delirium. Shortly after they blew a four-run lead, the Cubs rebounded and won their first World Series title since 1908.

“It was awesome that they showed up like that,” center fielder Dexter Fowler said. “I feel like the whole season is a home game with Cubs fans everywhere. And they’ve been fighting for this and we did it for them.”

Cubs fans didn’t shy away from making the 5 1/2-hour trek from Chicago after the Cubs forced Game 7 with a victory on Tuesday night. StubHub reported that 60 percent of the fans who purchased Game 7 tickets on Wednesday had Illinois addresses. The median price tag was $1,823.

Fans didn’t wait long to announce their presence, roaring in delight when Fowler led off the contest with a solo homer off Indians starter Corey Kluber.

“We had a lot of Cubs over here,” catcher Miguel Montero said.

Indians fans weren’t to be outdone, especially after Rajai Davis tied the score at 6 in the eighth-inning with a stunning two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman. But the Cubs crowd stayed strong in spite of the potential disaster and roared in delight when Kris Bryant fielded Michael Martinez’s grounder to third and fired the ball to Anthony Rizzo for an out so many never believed would come.

Fans stuck around afterward to partake in the celebration. More than 90 minutes after the final out and in spite of a heavy rain, Cubs fans continued to celebrate their team’s stunning comeback in the series.

“I expected a big contingent in Cleveland,” assistant general manager Jason McLeod said. “I didn’t expect them to get that many tickets into the ballpark. It was awesome. It was like that everywhere -- San Francisco, LA. The Cubs fans came out in droves. They were awesome and we all were talking about this -- personally, professionally we all want to win (for us). But we all talked a lot about, ‘Gosh man, in addition to that, it’d be so great to win for these fans.’ So passionate. To be able to do that and to see them out there after the game -- it looked like they took up a third of the ballpark if not more. It was phenomenal.”

More on the World Series victory

--Joy to the World: Cubs finally end 108-year Series drought

--Finally: The Cubs are World Series champs

--The wait –and the weight- is over: Cubs fans celebrate World Series title

--Barack Obama congratulates Cubs World Series championship

--Famous Cubs fans celebrate World Series title on Twitter

--Ben Zobrist becomes first Cub ever to win World Series MVP

--Numbers game: statistical oddities of the Cubs World Series title

--Jed Hoyer: Rain delay was ‘divine intervention’ for Cubs

​--Fans give Cubs a taste of home in Cleveland

--Ben Zobrist delivers exactly what the Cubs expected with massive World Series

--‘Dreams come true’: Bill Murray reacts to Cubs winning the World Series

--Big surprise: Kyle Schwarber plays hero again for Cubs in World Series Game 7

- Ryne Sandberg: World Series ‘made it able for me to live in the present’

Nightmare scenario for Cubs as Anthony Rizzo leaves Sunday's game with injury

Nightmare scenario for Cubs as Anthony Rizzo leaves Sunday's game with injury

A Cubs team already without its closer and top two shortstops will now hold its breath waiting to hear on Anthony Rizzo's status.

Rizzo left the Cubs game Sunday after rolling his ankle on a nasty-looking play in the top of the third inning. He approached a bunt in front of the plate and slipped on the Wrigley Field grass, making a huge divot and rolling his ankle in the process.

He finished the play (though his throw to first base was wide) and crumpled to the ground in serious pain as Cubs trainers, coaches and teammates rushed to his side:

The Cubs are calling it a sprained right ankle for Rizzo and initial X-rays at the ballpark did not reveal a fracture. He will get an MRI on Monday to determine the severity and we will know more about his timeline then. The Cubs welcome the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals to town Thursday night for a crucial four-game series that could decide the fate of the division.

Rizzo remained on the ground for a few minutes before getting to his feet and had to be helped back to the dugout by a trainer and teammate Jason Heyward. Ian Happ took over at first base.

The air completely went out of the stadium and to make matters worse, the Pirates jumped all over Jose Quintana and plated 5 runs in the inning immediately after Rizzo's injury. 

Considering the shape of the National League playoff race, this is a nightmare scenario for the Cubs. They entered Sunday 1.5 games behind the Washington Nationals for the top Wild-Card spot and 3 games behind the Cardinals in the division, with those two teams squaring off against each other in St. Louis Monday through Wednesday.

Rizzo is not only one of the Cubs' most important players at any point in the season, but he's been a huge key to the offensive turnaround of late by stepping into the leadoff role. Since Joe Maddon moved him into the top spot Thursday, Rizzo has responded by reaching base safely to lead off all four games and scoring runs in three of those instances. He drew a walk in the first inning Sunday and came around to score on Kris Bryant's homer, then walked again in the bottom of the second inning before leaving the game with injury.

Rizzo joins Javy Baez (fractured left thumb), Addison Russell (concussion) and Craig Kimbrel (right elbow inflammation) on the shelf. 

What will Cubs do with Nico Hoerner once Addison Russell returns?

What will Cubs do with Nico Hoerner once Addison Russell returns?

What will the Cubs do with Nico Hoerner once - or if - Addison Russell is able to return to the field?

Russell is still in concussion protocol and it's unknown when he will resume baseball activities. There are no clear timelines for head injuries and every person responds differently.

He was still showing symptoms this weekend after taking a 94 mph fastball to the face in Milwaukee last Sunday. Russell meets with team doctors each day, but will be relegated to the bench until he is given medical clearance to return.

Even if Russell is able to play again over these next couple days, how could the Cubs possibly take Hoerner out of the lineup right now?

The rookie collected 3 more hits Saturday, including a 3-run homer in the sixth inning:

That now gives him 11 RBI in his first six MLB games.

"Nico's performance cannot be overlooked," Joe Maddon said Saturday morning. "That [homer] was the first pitch he saw yesterday? I mean, c'mon. And beyond that, the thing I'm really focused on is the defense. He's really done a nice job on defense, which we really need that moment out there. The offense has been a plus.

"I have not given that thought until I know that Addison is ready to rock and roll. And once he does, I know one thing for sure - even if Nico were to start the game, we could upgrade the defense later with Addison in the game, too. So it's one of those things - I don't even permit myself to go there. I don't even know if [Russell is] gonna play or not. I don't know that.

"So in the meantime, Nico: just keep doing what you're doing. He's impressed probably the industry, but more importantly - the clubhouse. The guys have really been impressed by him."

It’s been a nightmare season for Russell. He missed the first month serving out the rest of his suspension for violating MLB's domestic violence policy. He was optioned to Triple-A Iowa initially after the suspension and then came up to the big leagues, where he struggled and was unable to carve out consistent playing time despite the Cubs' need for production at second base.

Russell was then demoted to the minors again in late-July after persistent baserunning/mental mistakes. When Javy Baez went down with injury on the last homestand, Russell stepped in to play shortstop (his natural position), but committed a throwing error in three straight games last weekend in Milwaukee.

Saturday marked only the 95th professional game in Hoerner's career, but he has drawn rave reviews from every corner of the Cubs clubhouse, including seasoned veteran Jon Lester tabbing him as a sparkplug.

Less than a week ago, Hoerner was sitting at home in Oakland with his family, thinking his regular season was done and getting ready to play in the Arizona Fall League soon.

Now, he and his family are at Wrigley Field, soaking it all in:

"[My first game at Wrigley] was amazing. It felt like I had always hoped it would," Hoerner said. "Something you think about for a long time and it definitely lived up to the hype. I had hyped it up to my family a lot just from seeing one game here last year. I said it was unlike anything I had ever seen before and they agreed."

After his debut week, it's natural for fans to wonder if Hoerner should be the Cubs' starting shortstop on a playoff roster even if Russell is able to come back healthy. Baez's exact timeline looms as an x-factor here, too.

Who knows how this will all play out over the next two weeks, but the Cubs have to get to October first and right now, Hoerner is clearly the answer to help them do so.

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