CLEVELAND (AFP) – Two teams with Major League Baseball’s longest title droughts have gone the distance in the 112th World Series, setting up the sport’s ultimate drama, a winner-take-all one game championship showdown on Wednesday.
The Chicago Cubs, whose title drought since 1908 is the longest in American sports history, rolled 9-3 Tuesday over the host Cleveland Indians, who have not won the best-of-seven event since 1948, to pull level at 3-3 and set up the 37th decisive seventh game in World Series history.
One set of long-suffering supporters will finally celebrate the end of epic misery while the other will endure yet another heartbreak and be left to wonder if their wait will ever be rewarded.
Cleveland pitcher Corey Kluber, who won the opener and then game four on short rest, will take the mound for the third time in eight days in game seven against Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks in a battle of right-handers, neither of whom have ever pitched in a game seven before.
‘‘This is the ultimate dream,’’ Hendricks said. ‘‘When you are out in your backyard as a kid, playing Little League at the field with your friends, this is the moment you dream about.’’
Not since 1985 has a team rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series as the Cubs are attempting to do. And not since 1979 has a team done it by winning the last two on the road as the Cubs must to take the title.
Kluber’s short-rest Series double had not been accomplished since 1990. Now he could become only the 11th man to pitch three wins in the same seven-game World Series.
‘‘Game seven of the World Series, I don’t think you need any extra motivation,’’ Kluber said.
Kluber went 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA this season and is 4-1 in the playoffs with a 0.89 ERA, even with Indians manager Terry Francona trimming his rest time.
‘‘I don’t think it has hurt,’’ Francona said. ‘‘I wouldn’t want to do this all year, but for a couple starts, I think he can handle it just fine.
‘‘The way he treats his body, the way he works his routines, good pitchers can do special things. He’s in that category. It was an easy decision after talking to him.’’
Hendricks was 16-8 with a 2.13 earned-run average and a 1-1 playoff record and a 1.31 ERA.
It’s the third game seven in six World Series matchups, with Madison Bumgarner pitching five shutout relief innings in 2014 to lift San Francisco over Kansas City and St. Louis beating Texas in 2011 after coming within one strike of defeat.
Game Seven drama also has included Arizona scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth to beat the New York Yankees 3-2 in 2001, Florida’s Edgar Renteria driving in the winning run in the 11th inning in 1997 to beat Cleveland and Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski blasting a walk-off home run to beat the Yankees in 1960.