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November 15, 2016

World Series:Managers: Joe Maddon, CHC; Terry Francona, CLEMVP:Ben Zobrist, CHC: .357 AVG, 2 2B, 2 RBIs, 5 RPath to the World SeriesNLCS: Chicago over Los Angeles (4 games to 2)ALCS: Cleveland over Toronto (4 games to 1)NLDS: Chicago over San Francisco (3 games to 1); Los Angeles over Washington (3

World Series:
Managers: Joe Maddon, CHC; Terry Francona, CLE
MVP:Ben Zobrist, CHC: .357 AVG, 2 2B, 2 RBIs, 5 R
Path to the World Series
NLCS: Chicago over Los Angeles (4 games to 2)
ALCS: Cleveland over Toronto (4 games to 1)
NLDS: Chicago over San Francisco (3 games to 1); Los Angeles over Washington (3 games to 2)
ALDS: Cleveland over Boston (3 games to 0); Toronto over Texas (3 games to 0)
AL Wild Card Game: Toronto over Baltimore
NL Wild Card Game: San Francisco over New York
The Cubs squashed 108 years worth of World Series demons by bringing a championship to the north side of Chicago for the first time since 1908. They did so in dramatic fashion, coming back from a 3-1 Series deficit with a string of nail-biting wins, and, in turn, denying Cleveland what would have been its first World Series championship since 1948.
Clinging to a 3-2 lead in win-or-go-home Game 5, Chicago turned to closer Aroldis Chapman for 2 2/3 innings -- the longest outing of his career -- to save the season at a frigid Wrigley Field. Back in Cleveland for Game 6, the Cubs bats came alive for the first time all series in a 9-3 win to force Game 7.
And what a Game 7 it was. It turned out to be one of the most dramatic winner-take-all-games ever: 10 innings, 15 runs, 24 hits, four errors, a rain delay, and one of the best comebacks in postseason history.
Chicago seemed to have their century-long wait for a championship wrapped up early, scoring six runs off Indians' ace Corey Kluber and reliever extraordinaire Andrew Miller. Kluber and Miller may have finally been spent after dominant but laborious postseasons. Kluber posted a 1.83 ERA in 34 1/3 playoff innings and won Games 1 and 4 of the World Series, while Miller was a revelation out of the bullpen. The lefty struck out 30 batters in 19 1/3 postseason innings, including 14 in an ALCS in which he earned MVP honors.
So with the Cubs up 6-3 in the sixth, the Indians already through Kluber and Miller, and Chapman in the wings, Chicago's victory looked assured. That is until Rajai Davis' game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth off Chapman, the latest game-tying home run in World Series Game 7 history.
But all it did was prolong Chicago's celebration. After an are-you-kidding-me rain delay, the Cubs scored two runs in the top of the 10th against Brian Shaw. World Series MVP Ben Zobrist drove in the winning run with an opposite-field double, and the Cubs held on, Bartman, The Billy Goat, and all that other stuff be damned.
NLCS:
Managers: Maddon, CHC, Dave Roberts, LAD
MVP:Javier Báez, Jon Lester
Path to the NLCS:
NLDS: Chicago over San Francisco (3 games to 1); Los Angeles over Washington (3 games to 2)
This series marked the first time in their history the Cubs reached the NLCS in back-to-back years, and they knew they'd see Clayton Kershaw at least twice.
But not in Game 1 -- Kershaw's heroic NLDS effort precluded that -- and so the series opener unfolded into a back-and-forth affair. Chicago scored three early runs against starter Kenta Maeda, highlighted by Baez's steal of home -- the first in the postseason by a Cubs player since 1907. The Dodgers came back against Chapman, tying the game in the eighth to set the stage for Miguel Montero's game-winning, pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom half of the frame. Montero's historic blast set a dramatic tone for the rest of the series.
Kershaw came back to blank the Cubs in Game 2, and Rich Hill and three relievers followed to shutout Chicago again in Game 3.
But the Cubs' bats wouldn't stay quiet for long. They erupted for 23 runs over the final three games of the series, including five off Kershaw in the Game 6 clincher, to send Chicago to its first pennant in 71 years.
ALCS:
Managers: Francona, CLE; John Gibbons, TOR
MVP: Miller
Path to the ALCS:
ALDS: Cleveland over Boston (3 games to 0), Toronto over Texas (3 games to 0)
Cleveland continued to ride the momentum it gained rolling over Boston in the ALDS. Toronto, which also swept its opponent in the ALDS, fell flat against the Indians' dominant pitching. Led by Kluber and Miller, the Indians held the Blue Jays' powerful lineup to three runs over the first three games to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.
Francona revolutionized postseason bullpen use in the process, deploying swing reliever Miller not just in the late innings, but when his team most needed outs. In turn, Miller put together one of the most dominant series in postseason history, striking out 14 of 25 batters he faced over four games.
Kluber, Miller and reliever Cody Allen combined allowed just two runs over 23 2/3 innings, more than half the series, which allowed the Indians to roll despite hitting just .168 as a team. That set a record for the lowest average by a winning team in postseason history. But it mattered little, as it put Cleveland in a position to win its first World Series title since 1948.