Game Recap: Brewers 3, Cubs 1
And just like that, the 2008 regular season comes to a close. CC Sabathia finally was able to beat the Cubs, although Lou hardly trotted out his best players today. What's more, Sabathia pitched again on short rest and went the distance - 122 pitches and 7 strikeouts to notch another big win. With all due respect to Webb, maybe the Brewers lefty should get some votes for the Cy Young.
The Cubs were offensively quiet today; in fact, Theriot and Ramirez accounted for all their hits. The Cubs pitching was pretty effective - Angel Guzman rediscovered some of that God-given talent and struck out 4 Brewers in 2 innings of work, before turning it over to an assorted cast of characters. Gaudin, Cotts, Hart, Marshall, Wuertz, and Howry, proceeded to get some work, and ironically it was only the guys up for post season roster consideration who looked bad.
I'm sure some Cub fans are a little frustrated that the team couldn't hold onto their thin lead and force Milwaukee into a one-game with the Mets, but this was clearly not today's objective. Lou Piniella was looking to get all of his relievers a little work. In the process, he discovered something we've known for quite a while - the only time Bob Howry doesn't let a hit drop onto the playing field is when it cannot be contained by the park. Unfortunately, that's often. In the 8th inning, Howry managed to secure 2 outs before giving up the game-changing homer, but even the second out of the inning was one that almost escaped the ballpark. This takes us to ...
Well, I was hoping for a sweep, but upon reflection it would have required a minor miracle. But chin up, Cub fans. The Brewers look far from invincible. To get to the post season, they have loaded up their workhorse ace and probably sooner rather than later, he's going to wear out. And while Bob Howry has to be the most concerning post season selection I've seen since Lou penciled in Jason Marquis, the are unlikely to use him in a tight spot. We might see Howry come in if they are leading by 8 or losing by 8, but I doubt he'll be pitching in a close situation. Let's keep that in mind.
Bring on the Dodgers
Now that Milwaukee has clinched, the Dodgers are lined up to play the Cubs. This is the first post season in a long, long while in which all New York teams will be watching from home, which is rare and makes things more interesting, at least for me. This will also be a particularly interesting NLDS because, while the Cubs have beaten the Dodgers in the season series, it was mostly in low-scoring games and without the presence of Manny Ramirez. Back in June and July, 1460's Jon Miller and I went back and forth on this a lot - the Dodgers were a little concerning. But now that September is finally ending, I say bring 'em on. If the Cubs can't beat the weakest team to make the playoffs, then they don't deserve to beat anybody else.
I'm going to start on a Post Season Scouting Report, which I will publish at some point tomorrow. In the meantime, let's give Milwaukee their moment, but let's not forget something - we owned them all year long, and we'll own them in the NLCS if we have to.