By Andrew Simon, David Adler and Matt Kelly
After 108 long years, the Chicago Cubs are finally World Series champions again.
But it wasn't easy. After battling back from a 3-1 deficit after Game 4, the Cubs faced an incredibly resilient Indians team that refused to yield until the very final out. Ultimately, Chicago prevailed with an 8-7, 10-inning victory in a winner-take-all Game 7, which could go down as one of the most exciting World Series contests in history.
Wednesday's Game 7 featured several wild swings in momentum. Out of the millions who watched, there's sure to be varying opinions on which plays in Game 7 were the best, but here's our attempt to rank the most thrilling plays of this instant classic:
10. Fowler opens with a bang Dexter Fowler got Game 7 off to an electric start, hitting the first leadoff home run in a World Series Game 7 to center field off Indians ace Corey Kluber. Fowler's blast set the tone for the Cubs against Kluber, who had beaten them twice in the World Series before Game 7.
9. Shallow fly brings home Bryant
Cleveland's Carlos Santana tied the game in the bottom of the third with an RBI single, but Kris Bryant quickly answered. After singling to lead off the fourth, Bryant worked his way to third before tagging up and sprinting home on Addison Russell's sacrifice fly that traveled only 232 feet to shallow center field. Statcast™ tracked 103 instances this year where a fly ball of less than 235 feet was caught by an outfielder with a runner on third and less than two outs, and players successfully tagged up just nine times (8.7 percent).
Bryant showed off his impressive wheels again in the fifth when he scored from first on an Anthony Rizzo hit-and-run single in 8.7 seconds, which is the fastest first-to-home time recorded by any Cubs player in the Statcast™ era (2015-16).
8. Lindor makes sweet defensive play up the middle
With the game tied at 6-6 in the ninth inning, the Cubs were threatening with a man on third and two outs when Fowler smacked a hard grounder up the middle. Francisco Lindor covered 34 feet in a blink of an eye before scooping the ball up and throwing to first to end Chicago's threat.
7. Schwarber ignites the winning inning Kyle Schwarber had another huge game for the Cubs in Game 7. The fan favorite started the decisive 10th inning with his third hit, a line drive through the shift. Were it not for Schwarber's return in the World Series after missing almost the entire season, Chicago might never have won.
6. Almora's aggressive maneuver
Sometimes it's the little things that pay off, and Albert Almora Jr.'s heads-up baserunning in the 10th inning put the Cubs in position to win. Pinch-running for Schwarber, Almora tagged up and advanced to second base on a Bryant flyout, leading the Indians to intentionally walk Rizzo. Ben Zobrist followed with the tiebreaking double and Rizzo ended up scoring the winning run.
5. One wild pitch, two runs Jon Lester relieved Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks with two outs in the bottom of the fifth with Chicago leading, 5-1. He quickly hurled a wild pitch that catcher David Ross couldn't corral, allowing two Indians runners to score. It was the first wild pitch thrown in the World Series that allowed two runs to score since 1911.
4. Grandpa Rossy comes through
In his final game before retirement, Ross went out in style. The 39-year-old extended his club's lead to 6-3 with a sixth-inning solo shot to dead center against Andrew Miller. Ross became the oldest player to go deep in a winner-take-all World Series game.
"I was floating around those bases," said Ross. "I let two runs in [on the wild pitch], so I wanted to get them back."
3. The final out
This one needs to be here for posterity, even if it wasn't an amazing play compared to some of the other highlights. That said, the sight of Bryant smiling as he fielded that Michael Martinez ground ball is one that will stick with Cubs fans forever.
"It's got to be a top three game of all time," said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. "Everyone's prone to hyperbole at moments like this, but I think it really was. It felt like it. I died like six times. It was pretty remarkable.''
2. Davis pulls Tribe even
Trailing, 6-4, with two outs in the eighth inning and facing Aroldis Chapman, the Indians looked like they were in trouble. And then Rajai Davis came through, pummeling a 98.2-mph fastball over the left-field wall for a two-run shot. It was the third game-tying homer in World Series Game 7 history, and it eventually sent the teams to extra innings.
1. Zobrist delivers go-ahead double
When Zobrist stepped to the plate with two on and one out in the top of the 10th, the veteran had one career RBI in 64 career World Series plate appearances spread across three years. He matched that total by slapping a hard grounder down the left-field line to score Almora for a 7-6 lead.
"I know [Bryan Shaw] throws a pretty hard cutter and I just kept battling," said Zobrist. "Obviously, I swung at a ball with two strikes, and barely hung in there in the at-bat. And fortunately, he put one close enough to the plate where I could just slap one down the line there."