Game Recap: Cubs 7, Brewers 3; the best in our life-times
It's really next to impossible to compare teams in different eras, so maybe these really aren't "the best in our life-times" as I have so brazenly declared. But in terms of wins, the '08 Cubs have now won more games than any Cubs team since 1945 with their 97th tonight. They have also dealt a blow to the Brewers that can best be described as the punch that comes before the knockout. They just put one on Milwaukee's chin; the Brewers have crossed their eyes, and one massive roundhouse shot to the temple will be all she wrote for the Milwaukee season ... assuming the Mets win tomorrow.
Pity Ben Sheets. He tried. He was chased early in the 3rd, after having given up 4 runs on 53 pitches. He then sounded like a total idiot in the post game, saying "That's all I had. I got a broke arm, I got a broke arm. It's not really broke, but it's all I had for the year. Things definitely don't look like they’re on my side."
Although Sheets was chased early, the Cubs still toyed with Milwaukee, keeping it close. In the 7th and 8th innings, the Brewers threatened and even managed to come within a run after Jason Marquis's relief pitching post season audition. de Suck managed to get the first out in the 8th against the first batter he faced, and he then proceeded to walk Russell Branyan, he surrendered an RBI single to Craig Counsell, and he then hit Ryan Braun. Lou then called the bullpen, and spoke briefly to Neal Cotts about coming into the game. Cotts yelled "you need me!" into the phone, trotted out to the mound, and gave up an RBI single to Prince Fielder. With his formerly comfortable lead evaporated, Lou turned to Michael Wuertz who managed to force two fielders' choices and escaped the inning.
Phew. Sounds like a lot of excitement. Fortunately, the 9th was boring. Kerry Wood came into the game but left his leopard-print tights back in the clubhouse for a boring 1-2-3 end to an otherwise thrilling game. Granted, it was a non-save situation thanks to Kosuke Fukudome, who hit his 10th homer of the year in the top of the 9th, but that doesn't matter. The point is that the Cubs won.
Now, our friend and team manager Lou Piniella knows the importance of the next step. He knows that, between the Mets and the Brewers, CC Sabathia is perhaps as equally dangerous as Johan Santana in a short series. But Lou must also surely know that Santana could pitch no more than twice in a 5 game set, compared to facing Sabathia perhaps as often as 3 times in a 7 gamer. What's more, Lou recognizes that the Mets are the walking wounded, while the Brewers are comparatively intact. For all of those reasons, Lou probably realizes it might benefit the Cubs to play the Mets in Round 1 and leave it up to the Dodgers and Phillies to fight it out for who they'd play in Round 2. That's why Lou will be turning to the Ice Man, The Clutch Captain, to beat Sabathia tomorrow in order to give the Mets their shot of clinching the Wild Card. That's right, Lou Piniella is calling upon ... Angel Guzman for the final start of the year?!
What. The. Huh???!
Well, you never know. Guzman has not been nearly as effective since the doctors sliced all that God-given speed and movement from his shoulder and elbow, but the Cubs have shown a disposition to beat Sabathia. Maybe Milwaukee will collapse and it won't matter that Guzman is only able to last 3 innings himself. Maybe the Mets will win and it'll go to a 1 game playoff regardless of what the Brewers do. Maybe a playoff would be the best thing, because it weakens the winner - whomever it is - for the NLDS.
Maybe - and this is perhaps the most likely scenario - Lou Piniella realizes it doesn't matter. He's not afraid of the other teams in the NL. He knows that he has the most complete, the most competent, the most decisively built team in all of baseball. He is not afraid to play the Brewers in the NLCS, he's not afraid to play the Mets in the NLDS, and he'd rather rest up to win on Wednesday, rather than worry about winning a fairly pointless game on Sunday.
So, Angel Guzman, go get 'em. And to all the Cubs who will actually be playing on the post season roster, go get 'em ... on Wednesday.