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Beechert: Kyle Pulled Early, Much Drama, Cubs Win, Curse Lifted, Joy Reigns

cubswin.jpgWhat a Series and what a moment. Cubs fans can rejoice, and also exhale a bit, since 108 years of waiting is finally over. For the first time since 1908, the North Side is home to the champions of baseball.

It was a Game Seven for the ages, engaging enough to keep this neutral observer wide awake from first pitch until the final out was recorded at close to 6 AM Central European Time. While the game was by no means the most cleanly played four-plus hours of baseball that you’ll ever see — Cleveland and Chicago combined to make four errors — it was the most exciting in recent memory. A promising offensive start for the Cubs, which gave Kyle Hendricks ‘12 a 5-1 lead, was partially squandered after manager Joe Maddon inexplicably decided to go to his bullpen two outs into the bottom of the fifth inning.

Maddon’s pitching change was confusing, and it visibly frustrated Hendricks, who, after allowing one run in the third, had rediscovered the dominant form he enjoyed at the outset. Kyle had only thrown 63 pitches when he was pulled, and he could have presumably gone much deeper into the game, especially considering the ease with which he was locating his brilliant stuff and getting quick outs, but Maddon wanted to bring in left-handed ace Jon Lester to face a left-handed batter. Lester, possibly a bit gassed after only two days of rest, promptly allowed two runs to score on a wild pitch. This turn of events was even more difficult to swallow for Cubs (and Dartmouth) fans by the fact that Hendricks, before being removed, had thrown a perfectly located pitch on a two-strike count that, although called a ball by the home plate umpire, should have ended the inning with the score at 5-1.

Despite Maddon’s unfortunate bit of overmanaging, all’s well that ends well. Chicago survived a feisty comeback by the Indians, who tied the game in the eighth on Rajai Davis’ dramatic homer off a fatigued Aroldis Chapman, as well as a brief rain delay before the start of the tenth. The team’s — and the city of Chicago’s — exultation upon recording the final out not long thereafter could be felt an ocean away. Congratulations to the Cubs, and to Kyle, who made his alma mater proud.

Addendum: Only three and a half months until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.


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