(CBS) It’s a trip around the bases that will live in Cubs lore.
Albert Almora scored the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series last November, helping the Cubs break their 108-year championship curse. It was a journey around the bases that started when Almora pinch ran for Kyle Schwarber following a lead-off single in the 10th inning and was notably highlighted by his heads-up play to tag up from first base and take second on Kris Bryant’s long flyout to center field for the first out.
The tag-up decision by Almora proved to be vital, for two reasons. It allowed him to get 90 feet closer and easily score on Ben Zobrist’s go-ahead double, but it also contributed to the Indians’ call to intentionally walk Anthony Rizzo with first base open ahead of Zobrist’s at-bat. Rizzo’s eventual run ended up being the difference-making tally in the 8-7 victory after the Indians scored once in the bottom half of the 10th.
On Tuesday in an interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on 670 The Score, Almora relived his small-but-crucial role in the Game 7 win.
“When the whole rain delay was going on, Davey (Martinez), our bench coach, came up to me and goes, ‘Hey, when Schwarber gets on second base, you’re going to pinch run,'” Almora said. “So I said, ‘OK.’ I got ready. That whole rain delay, after the meeting, I was getting ready. I was on the bike. I was getting as loose as possible. Schwarber comes up, hits a (single) and I’m pissed, because he’s not on second base. I’m like, ‘I got to wait until he’s on second base.’ And then I’m kind of in the back of the dugout, I’m leaning back and I’m looking at Joe (Maddon). I’m reading his lips and I saw him say ‘Almora.’ I jumped and put my helmet on, and I remember when Davey was like, ‘You’re in,’ that moment that I was walking toward the end of the dugout, climbing those stairs out to the field, those were the most nerve-racking steps of my life. I was as nervous as I’ve ever been in my life. And I had my (young) son (born), it was right up there. Bringing him into this world and walking to first base were about the same. They were the same thing (nerves wise).
“But to be honest with you guys, the moment I stepped on first base … the moment I started talking to (Indians first baseman Mike) Napoli, it was all gone. I was in the moment. I was playing the game that I love that I’ve played all my life. And it’s game time. I’m not messing this up. Let’s go.”
Almora never had any hesitation in taking second base, even though some observers — and teammates — viewed it as daring.
“It helps that I’m an outfielder,” Almora said. “I saw how (Rajai) Davis was running back, and I saw he was kind of coasting. So I said, ‘It’s either a home run or he’s going to make the play at the wall and I’m going to take a gamble and I’m going to go.’ That’s the longest 90 feet I’ve ever ran, but it was awesome.
“You can’t compare anything to that World Series. It’s something so special to us and to the fans. I honestly didn’t think (the tag-up) was that crazy. It wasn’t until, maybe, when I came into the dugout, a couple guys gave me hugs and they were like, ‘That’s unbelievable’ — we’ll keep it G-rated.
“And then after the game, days down the road, I’ve got people coming up to me, thanking me. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Hey, I appreciate it, but I’m just trying to win.’ You know what I mean? I’m trying to put Chicago on top. I wouldn’t be there without Schwarber. I wouldn’t be there without a lot of people. My role was real small, but I’m just glad it worked out.”
You can watch and listen to the interview with Almora and Baez below.