It figured. Really. Who else but the Cubs could come home from a season-opening road trip, prepared to hoist their World Series championship flag, and have it delayed by rain?
This rain delay lasted a lot longer than the one during which Jason Heyward pulled his mates to the clubhouse for the pep talk that led to the Cubs breaking the Game Seven tie and holding on to win game, set, and Series five months ago.
That night, Anthony Rizzo clamped his mitt around the final out after Kris Bryant fielded a herky jerky grounder from an ancient Cleveland journeyman named Michael Martinez and threw almost as herky-jerky. Monday night, Rizzo led the pack out of the center field wall holding the World Series trophy up for one and all to ogle.
Then, long into the night, Rizzo poked the game-winning single off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen. To win a game either team could have handed to the other, as three Cub errors and two Dodger errors attest.
The Cubs only had to go through the Dodgers to get to the World Series in the first place. Now, beating them through their usually stout closer to finish celebrating their flag raising ceremony, Rizzo was even more of a wreck inside than he’d been carrying the trophy before the game.
“Walking out there to raise the flag . . . wow, I got chills,” he said after the 3-2 win. “And then walking back with the trophy . . . that thing’s not just heavy, it’s been beat up. It’s been around. Believe me, I know. But I kept thinking carrying that trophy, I’m the only one that’s ever gotten to do this. I still have chills thinking about it.”
The Cubs didn’t just beat the Dodgers to crown the ceremony Wrigleyville waited a century plus to see. They had the same umpire behind the plate Monday night as they had working the plate in Cleveland for Game Seven, Sam Holbrook. And even he got caught up in the revelry, unable to resist remembering Game Seven after Monday night’s game.
“What I remember most is when it was over,” the umpire said to Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci. “Just to walk off the field at that moment was something special. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. The best way I can describe it was that you knew walking off the field it was an epic game in an epic series.”
Monday night was its own kind of epic, right down to Rizzo dumping one up the left field line with Jon Jay on third, Jay having gotten there on the dime of Sergio Romo, the erstwhile Giants closer. It made a winner of Wade Davis, erstwhile setup man in the Royals’ erstwhile H-D-H bullpen, who worked the top of the ninth and survived a one-out single and an infield error.
Jon Lester, who’d relieved Kyle Hendricks in Game Seven, started and kept the Dodgers to a run over six innings, the run coming in the sixth when Corey Seager doubled home Joc Pederson. That cut in half the Cubs’ 2-0 lead, and it was Lester who’d taken care of the second Cub run in the first place, hitting into a force out in the fifth on which Addison Russell scored.
The first Cub run came in the third, when Kyle Schwarber—kept alive after Yasiel Puig dropped a foul fly—wrung himself back from 1-2 to walk, and Bryant bopped one toward the left field corner to send the Schwarbinator home. The Dodgers’ second run came in the eighth, when Russell—taking a throw from first on Chase Utley’s grounder—threw a wild bounce past reliever Koji Uehara covering after Justin Turner’s diving takeout slide, allowing Logan Forsythe, who opened the inning with a base hit up the middle, to score.
Turner suffered a quad injury on the play. The Dodgers also lost outfielder Franklin Gutierrez for a spell due to a hamstring pull. They also blew a platinum opportunity to flip the game upside down an inning before the Turner slide. They loaded the pads on Carl Edwards, Jr., Lester’s relief, with nobody out. Justin Grimm relieved Edwards, Pederson flied out to shallow right, and Andrew Toles, pinch-hitting for Dodger reliever Josh Fields, dialed Area Code 5-6-3.
Rizzo wasn’t exactly having a grand night otherwise until he checked in against Jansen in the ninth. Come to think of it, Rizzo wasn’t exactly having a grand season opening, either. He’d gone 4-for-25 on the Cubs’ season-opening road trip without driving anyone home, and he’d gone 0-for-3 with one walk entering the ninth.
With one swing on a 1-1 service Rizzo broke his RBI slump and the hearts of Wrigley Field fans who left earlier when the late hour and the continuing bitter weather finally overcame whatever joy they had at the World Series flag hoisting. (This is why, normally, you don’t leave until it’s really over, folks.) They’re praying for better weather Wednesday, when the Cubs will receive their World Series rings after a day off today.
There are just so many rain delays Cub Country can take without tranquilisers.