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It Didn't Matter, But...

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... someone should have told Jason Marquis and Ryan Dempster that today's regular season finale, an 8-4 Cub loss to the Reds, was an important tuneup for the National League Division Series which begins Wednesday at Phoenix.

Ted Lilly and five relievers held the Reds to one hit over 6.1 innings today. Unfortunately, in the other 1.2 innings, Marquis and Dempster got pounded around for eight hits and eight runs.

Right now, if the Cubs needed a fourth starter for the Division Series, I'd probably pick Sean Marshall instead of Marquis. Marshall had a good outing in his playoff tuneup on Saturday; Marquis was awful. So was Dempster; he was pitching in the fourth inning, as he might have during a spring training game. Managers do that so that closers can face the major league regulars during an exhibition game.

Unfortunately, the Reds had only one of their players from their Opening Day regular lineup (Edwin Encarnacion) in today's lineup -- it was a motley collection of almost-wases (Buck Coats) to prospects (Ryan Hanigan, Joey Votto) who beat Marquis and Dempster into submission.

Votto hit the biggest blast, a three-run HR that bounced off the top of the RF wall and over off Dempster.

I'd write more now but I am very, very tired after just arriving back by car from Cincinnati... waving at other cars full of Cubs fans heading back on I-74! I'll fill out this post more completely in the morning.

UPDATE [2007-10-1 8:01:17 by Al]: Good morning! After a good night's sleep, just a few notes about the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, which I finally got a chance to walk around a bit further yesterday. The concourses are wide and airy -- the white paint that's used on the steel girders underneath the seating area makes them feel even lighter and bigger than they actually are. The food service is pretty much ballpark-standard fare; I did have the Skyline chili-dog for lunch, which is a better bargain ($6.50 if you get two, and you should because they're small) than the $9 chili bowl that I had on Friday night. Wound up sitting about 25 rows right behind the Cub dugout for yesterday's game... those are nice seats, although you still have absolutely no sense of the surroundings when you're inside. The views of Kentucky across the river that you often see on TV games from the GABP can't be seen from the seats, unless you're in the middle or upper deck; I also found it odd that the decks aren't uniform height all the way around (the RF club level is at a different height than the LF "mid-level"). It screams out "Generic Ballpark!"

Nevertheless, I'm glad I went to share the experience with literally tens of thousands of other Cub fans. Ran into several people wearing division championship garb who had driven down Sunday morning, just to see the team that had won the title, and I got to thinking -- for many of those people, that'll be the only time they'll see this division title team in action; they may not have playoff tickets, and for them, they just wanted to soak up a little of the atmosphere that all of us will have beginning this week.

I ran into a couple of BCB readers: McCarron and Jettero2112 (and his son, about five or six years old, attending his very first Cubs game); nice to see you guys, and I know there were other BCB'ers there, who I didn't get a chance to see. Hope to see you sometime during the postseason, because...

The best is yet to come!