‘Cursed’ Cubs back in World Se­ries after 71 years

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

The Chicago Cubs won their first Na­tional League pen­nant since 1945 and are a step closer to end­ing a 108-year World Se­ries drought after beat­ing the Los An­ge­les Dodgers 5 -0 on Satur­day to clinch a 4-2 vic­tory in the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

Chicago’s Kyle Hen­dricks out­pitched Dodgers ace Clay­ton Ker­shaw while An­thony Rizzo and Will­son Con­tr­eras home­red early at Wrigley Field. The pen­nant drought ended when closer Aroldis Chap­man got Yasiel Puig to ground into a dou­ble play, set­ting off wild cel­e­bra­tions among the suc­cess-starved fans.

The Cubs will open the World Se­ries at Cleve­land to­mor­row. The In­di­ans haven’t won it since 1948. “This city de­serves it so much,” Rizzo said. “We got four more big ones to go, but we’re go­ing to en­joy this. We’re go­ing to the World Se­ries. I can’t even be­lieve that.”

Hen­dricks pitched 7-1/3 score­less in­nings. Aroldis Chap­man took over and closed with hit­less relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by team­mates and coaches.

Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the MVP award for the se­ries. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made sev­eral sharp plays at sec­ond base. Lester, a for­mer World Se­ries cham­pion in Bos­ton, had a 1.38 earned run av­er­age in two starts. The eter­nal “wait till next year” is over. No more dwelling on a his­tory of fail­ure - the fu­ture is now. “We’re too young. We don’t care about it,” star slug­ger Kris Bryant said. “We don’t look into it. This is a new team, this is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent time of our lives. We’re en­joy­ing it and our work’s just getting started.”

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses ear­lier in this se­ries by pound­ing the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the fi­nal three games. And they were in no way over­whelmed by the mo­ment on Satur­day, putting aside pre­vi­ous frus­tra­tion.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse sup­pos­edly be­gan when a tav­ern owner wasn’t al­lowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the fi­nal three games of the NLCS to Florida, punc­tu­ated with a Game 6 de­feat when a fan reached out to snare a ball that would have been caught by an out­fielder, al­low­ing a Mar­lins rally that turned the course of the se­ries.

Even as re­cently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 games. This time, no such ill luck. Bryant drove in one run and scored in a two-run first. Dex­ter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one. Con­tr­eras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resur­gence with a solo drive in the fifth. Hen­dricks left to a stand­ing ova­tion after al­low­ing a sin­gle with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hen­dricks al­lowed was on the game’s first pitch.

Ker­shaw, dom­i­nant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs be­fore be­ing lifted for a pinch hit­ter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in post­sea­son games over his ca­reer; a stark con­trast to his dom­i­nance in reg­u­lar sea­son games.

The Dodgers haven’t been to the World Se­ries since win­ning in 1988. Pitch­ing on five days’ rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award win­ner was forced to throw 30 pitches in the first in­ning alone. Fowler led off with a dou­ble, and Bryant’s sin­gle had the crowd shak­ing the 102year-old ball­park. They had more to cheer when left fielder An­drew Toles dropped Rizzo’s fly, putting run­ners on sec­ond and third, and Ben Zo­brist made it 2-0 a sac­ri­fice fly. The Cubs added a run in the sec­ond when Ad­di­son Rus­sell dou­bled to deep left and scored on a two-out sin­gle by Fowler.

CHICAGO: The Chicago Cubs pose after de­feat­ing the Los An­ge­les Dodgers 5-0 in game six of the Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries to ad­vance to the World Se­ries against the Cleve­land In­di­ans at Wrigley Field on Satur­day in Chicago, Illi­nois.

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