No. 1: Cleveland Indians at Chicago Cubs, October 30, 2016
The dream season was on the verge of ending, just short of that elusive championship. After the Cleveland Indians had won the previous night, they now held a 3-1 game lead in this World Series. The Chicago Cubs would be facing elimination for the first time all season. In Game 5, again, they would turn to their ace, Jon Lester.
The Indians would strike first against Lester in the second inning on a Jose Ramirez solo home run. It stayed 1-0 until the bottom of the fourth. I can still remember announcer John Smoltz saying that the Cubs had to score that inning; they had the middle of their lineup coming up, and the Indians’ shutdown bullpen awaited. Sure enough, the Cubs would rally for three, including a home run from Kris Bryant.
Lester would allow a run in the sixth but exited with the Cubs still holding the lead. Francisco Lindor singled in Rajai Davis in that inning, but for all the talk about Lester having trouble holding runners on base, the inning ended with the Cubs throwing out Lindor trying to steal second. Then, after Carl Edwards, Jr. got one out, Aroldis Chapman came in and got the final eight outs, shutting down the Indians and forcing a Game 6 in a tight 3-2 victory.
Cubs fans know the rest of the story: The team would go into Cleveland and win Games 6 and 7 to capture their first World Series title in 108 years. Along the way, we cannot forget the contributions of Jon Lester towards making that happen.