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Cubs vs. Indians: Game 7 Score and Twitter Reaction from 2016 World Series

There was the billy goat. Then there was the black cat. Then Steve Bartman. There was more than a century of gross mismanagement, poor ownership and heartbreak.

Then came president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. Then manager Joe Maddon. And then Wednesday night, Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero joined Chicago Cubs folklore by driving in a pair of runs in the top of the 10th inning to give their team a thrilling 8-7 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

In all, the Cubs hit three solo home runs on their way to their first World Series victory since 1908.

Left-hander Mike Montgomery recorded the game's final out, which came only after Rajai Davis drove in a run to make one of the most captivating games in World Series history close again.

MLB captured the Cubs' moment of triumph:

The Cubs broke the longest championship drought in MLB history but nearly broke the spirit of their fans in the process by exorcising their demons in the most excruciating way possible. 

First, they dug themselves a 3-1 hole and left themselves seemingly insurmountable odds at a comeback. No team in the past 30 years had won the Fall Classic after finding itself in that hole, and 1979 was the last time a team had won Games 6 and 7 on the road. Since MLB instituted the 2-3-2 format in 1925, only five teams had pulled off the comeback. 

For the game's first half, the Cubs showed no signs of succumbing to the moment, holding a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning. Dexter Fowler did not waste any time at the top of the first, belting a leadoff home run over the center field fence on the game's fourth pitch from Indians starter Corey Kluber.

It was the first-ever leadoff home run in a World Series Game 7. Jon Greenberg of The Athletic commented on the Cubs contingent in the Progressive Field crowd:

The Indians tied the game on a Carlos Santana single in the bottom of the third inning, but by the fourth, Chicago's bats were ablaze.

Addison Russell and Willson Contreras drove in a pair of runs to put the Cubs up 3-1 before Baez and Anthony Rizzo made it 5-1 at the top of the fifth. Baez ran Kluber out of the game with a 408-foot home run over the right-center field fence, atoning for an error in the bottom of the third. 

ESPN Stats & Info passed along a historic number on the blast:

Kluber gave up four runs in four innings after giving up a lone run over 12 innings in Games 1 and 4.

The Indians then handed the ball to ace reliever Andrew Miller. The American League Championship Series MVP had been the bedrock of their bullpen all postseason, but he did not fare much better. The lefty walked Kris Bryant, and Rizzo scored him with a single.

ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney had some lofty praise:

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks was pitching well, and the path to victory looked clear: Give Hendricks one more inning, and then let Jon Lester and Aroldis Chapman close things out.

Maddon did not see it that way and nearly became the modern face of Cubsian failure.

The manager, who received criticism for his handling of the Cubs bullpen in Game 6, pulled Hendricks in the fifth after he walked Carlos Santana. Lester, who was throwing on short rest, stepped in along with catcher David Ross.

Things went awry almost immediately, as Jason Kipnis made it to second after a throwing error by Ross. Then Lester's wild pitch bounced off Ross' helmet and allowed two Indians runners to score. Francisco Lindor struck out swinging to put an end to the inning.

At the top of the sixth, Ross temporarily halted the Indians' momentum, blasting a 406-foot solo home run off Miller in Ross' final MLB game. After going his first 16 postseason innings without giving up a single run, Miller coughed up three in his final 3.1—including two homers. 

Jordan Bastian of MLB.com nonetheless highlighted Miller's historic postseason:

Lester seemed to settle down after Ross' home run, getting through the sixth and seventh without allowing a run. But Maddon was again quick to pull the proverbial trigger after Lester gave up an infield single with two outs in the eighth.          

Like in the fifth, Maddon's decision blew up in his face. Chapman entered the game and immediately gave up an RBI double to Brandon Guyer prior to a game-tying two-run homer to Davis. The veteran has all of 55 home runs over his 11 seasons and hit it just barely over the left field fence to knot it up, via MLB on Twitter:

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted Chapman's tired arm:

The social media wolves came out in full force:

The teams then endured a stress-inducing ninth inning, with the Cubs blowing a chance with a runner on third base and one out. Cleveland's skies opened, causing a brief rain delay that seemingly gave the Cubs a moment to catch their collective breath.

Kyle Schwarber singled to start the 10th inning, and Rizzo got on via an intentional walk. That sequence set up Zobrist and Montero to play the heroes.

First, Zobrist hit an RBI double into the left field gap. Then, Cleveland intentionally walked Addison Russell, and Montero followed him with an RBI single that scored Rizzo.

Forced to go to his bullpen, Maddon handed the ball to Carl Edwards Jr., who recorded two outs before walking Guyer. Davis scored Guyer on a single, and Montgomery came in to close it out for Chicago. 

The Cubs' win seemingly cements 2016 as the year of the 3-1 lead. Roughly four months ago, the city of Cleveland was basking in the glow of its own historic comeback—the Cavaliers were the first team in NBA Finals history to come back from such a deficit. LeBron James, J.R. Smith and members of the Cavs were even in attendance Wednesday.

Members of the Golden State Warriors took notice:

More than anything, though, this is the culmination of a journey many thought would never end. The ghosts of Ryne Sandberg, Ernie Banks, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood can rest easy. Maddon even did his best Dusty Baker impersonation.

In the end, nothing—not mismanagement, not a torrential downpour, not Steve Bartman himself and not a dangerous Indians team—could stop the Cubs.


Postgame Reaction

Baez shared a look at the Commissioner's Trophy on Instagram: 

Zobrist offered his thoughts, per ESPN's Jesse Rogers:

The Chicago Cubs posted a comment from Rizzo on Twitter:

Indians reliever Cody Allen offered his response, per Jordan Bastian of MLB.com:   

                   

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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