“Here’s the 0–1. This is going to be a tough play….Bryant…The Cubs win the World Series!
Those words flew out of announcer Joe Buck’s mouth after a thrilling Game 7 at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. The lasting images will be the wide smile on Kris Bryant’s face as he fielded the grounder, Anthony Rizzo putting the ball in his pocket, and comedian Bill Murray’s smile.
The Cubs, of course, worked toward the goal of winning the World Series all year. The season may be over, but it’s never too late to relive the top five moments of the Chicago Cubs’ historic run.
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Jake Arrieta’s No-Hitter
For 7,109 straight games, dating all the way back to 1971, the Cincinnati Reds had gotten a hit in every game. It was the longest such streak in baseball, but Arrieta ended it with his second no-hitter in as many seasons. He threw 119 pitches in the effort, and Kris Bryant’s grand slam was part of Chicago’s offensive outburst. The Cubs won 16–0, and it was the lone no-hitter of the 2016 MLB season.
Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Jon Lester’s Walk-off
The Mariners and the Cubs played the rubber match of their three-game July series on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, but even the network couldn’t have imagined how good of a game it would get. The Mariners led 6–0 in the third inning, but the Cubs got back into it. Some wheeling and dealing by manager Joe Maddon, including using relief pitcher Travis Wood as a leftfielder for an inning, held the Mariners offense at bay. The Cubs scored three in the bottom of the ninth, with the game-tying run coming in on a wild pitch. In the bottom of the 12th, with one out and Jason Heyward on third, Maddon deployed pitcher Jon Lester to pinch hit. Lester and his lifetime .064 batting average got a squeeze bunt down, Heyward scored, and the Cubs completed the comeback.
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The Staggering Stats
This wasn’t so much a moment, but numbers paint the picture of how good this team was all season. The Cubs finished 2016 with a run differential of +252. The next-closest team in the league was Boston, at +184. The Cubs went 57–24 at Wrigley Field, good enough for a .700 winning percentage. They were third in the league in runs scored, first in ERA, first in opponent batting average, and tied for first in shutouts pitched.
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The Cubs trailed 5–2 entering the top of the ninth in Game 4 of the NLDS, staring down the barrel of a winner-take-all game at Wrigley after blowing a 2–0 series lead. But Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo both got on base, and then the next three batters drove in four runs to give the Cubs a 6–5 lead. Javier Baez registered the winning hit with an RBI single that scored Jason Heyward, giving Baez the winning hit in two of the three wins against San Francisco.
Photo: Brad Mangin/MLB Photos/Getty Images
You knew where this was going. Perhaps the greatest game in the history of baseball was the one that ended 108 years of misery for the Cubs. Fowler hit a leadoff home run, Baez and Ross went deep, and the Cubs led 6–1. The Indians got two runs on a wild pitch from Jon Lester, and Rajai Davis tied it at 6–6 in the bottom of the eighth with a line-drive home run off of Aroldis Chapman. After a rain delay, the Cubs took the lead in the top of the 10th thanks to hits by Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero. Carl Edwards Jr. and Mike Montgomery locked it down in the 10th inning. Game over, series over, curse over.
Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Hot Stove League: Top Cubs Moments of 2016