By Ryan Decker
It all comes down to this.
Tonight. One last game. One final baseball showdown in 2016.
They’re the best two words in sports, and we all get to bear witness tonight.
Cleveland and Chicago: both trying to end World Series droughts, both entering tonight’s game with their team historian telling all the media members on hand that neither team came out on the right side of the equation the last time they appeared in a Game 7 of the World Series. A drought has to end.
Chicago’s bats have heated up, most importantly Kris Bryant. Guys like Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Kyle Schwarber have stayed consistent. Bryant, who was due for a big game going into Game 6 last night, certainly rose to the occasion to keep the Cubs season alive.
He went 4 for 5, scoring twice, including on his two-out home run in the top of the first that began a three-run inning for the Cubbies.
On the other side, the Indians’ bats have cooled off.
Terry Francona’s crew only managed to score two runs in Game 5 in Chicago, and last night could only muster three runs on six hits. That’s not to say Cleveland didn’t have opportunities, as it left the bases loaded in the fourth inning and had a runner in scoring position in three innings.
Plus, Cleveland did have to go through Jon Lester and last year’s Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta in the last two games. The problem for the Indians, though, is that they are up against Kyle Hendricks, who could be this year’s Cy Young winner, tonight.
Hendricks won’t be the only Cubs starting pitcher that could enter tonight’s game.
It’s not just the Cubs that will be well equipped pitching-wise for Game 7.
Cleveland will send ace Corey Kluber to the mound to start as he looks to become the first pitcher since Mickey Lolich in 1968 to start and win three games in the same World Series.
He’s already made history this postseason, becoming the first pitcher with eight strikeouts in the first three innings of a World Series game, and has been by far Cleveland’s best starter in the playoffs.
As good as the Cubs’ bats were last night, don’t expect a hit parade from either side in Game 7.
It’s going to be a pitcher’s duel.
That’s not to say, though, the Indians hitters won’t come prepared.
Francisco Lindor is hitting at a .340 clip for the postseason, and at an even higher rate (.364) in the World Series. Jason Kipnis (.308 / 2 HR / 3 2B) and Jose Ramirez (.292/ 1 HR) are also leading the way offensively for Cleveland.
In the words of presidential candidate Donald Trump, “It’s going to be great.” (Maybe that’s what he’s been talking about this whole time.)
The number of viewers is expected to break recent marks.
This morning on Mike & Mike, an estimated 40 million people were said to be expected to tune in. That would make it the most-watched Game 7 of the World Series since 2001 between the Diamondbacks and Yankees.
This has the making to be one of the most-watched sporting events of 2016. Not only that, but baseball could not have asked for a better way to end the year, for better storylines, or for a better year to have this be the WS matchup considering NFL ratings are down by 11 percent.
You did good, Major League Baseball.
It’s going to be a tight game. Likely the first team to two runs wins. That team will be…
Indians win 3-1 for their first title since 1948.