Raise your hand if you still want Micah Hoffpauir on the postseason roster.
No hands? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Oh, and raise your hand if you think the Cubs should let Henry Blanco go and give Koyie Hill the backup catcher slot in 2009.
Thought so about that, too.
The Cubs gave the backups some playing time last night, partly for playoff consideration and partly because, unfortunately, Geovany Soto had to leave the game after re-hurting (I didn't want to say "injuring", because it isn't really an injury) his hand during an at-bat in the sixth inning, and the result was another loss, 5-1 to the Brewers. The Cubs will need to win both of their remaining games to match the 1945 team's total of 98, which is the most wins any Cub team has had since 1935.
This, combined with the Mets' 6-1 loss to the Marlins, gave Milwaukee a one-game lead in the wild card race. If they win it -- and it's possible they could today (although the Cubs will have something to say about that) -- the Cubs' first-round opponent will be the Dodgers. But there are still two days left in the season and -- as the old mantra goes -- stranger things have happened.
About the misplays that cost the Cubs the game: Hoffpauir made a truly bad baserunning blunder in the fifth inning, with the game still tied. After a single sending Mike Fontenot to third with two out -- and Fontenot had zero chance to score, and Mike Quade wisely held him -- Hoffpauir inexplicably decided to stretch his single to a double; he had about as much chance to do that as I would have, and he was gunned down easily to end the inning. Soto was the next hitter, which would have given the Cubs an excellent chance to break the tie -- and maybe that would have avoided the play in the next inning where Geo swung and re-aggravated his hand owie. What else do you call this? It's not really an injury, because he can play, but it occasionally gets bad enough to have him sit. He'll sit today, and play Sunday. Henry Blanco should be starting today -- he could use the playing time, too.
Koyie Hill finished off Geo's at-bat by striking out, and then let Brewers pitcher Seth McClung (who, incidentally, had one of the better relief outings by anyone this year -- four one-hit, six-strikeout innings) reach in the 7th on catcher's interference. CI -- as Len kept reminding us, that's the scorecard abbreviation -- is rare enough that it doesn't even have a separate stat line; the catcher gets charged with an error. So, when Chad Gaudin gave up a three-run homer to Rickie Weeks later in the inning, icing the victory for Milwaukee, one of the runs was unearned.
It appears that Gaudin has pitched himself off the playoff roster, especially now that Lou has committed to Bob Howry for the postseason bullpen. To which I say something that I often hear among our group in the bleachers, right now directed at Howry: "Please don't suck."
Jim Edmonds provided the Cub scoring with his 20th homer of the year, technically giving the Cubs six 20-homer men (only 19 of his homers have been with the Cubs, so I'd like to see him hit one more to make this "official"). Mark DeRosa, who hasn't played since tweaking his calf muscle on Wednesday, dumped the boot he's been wearing since then and wants to play on Sunday, just to get some timing back, and I think this is a good idea, especially since he'll be facing CC Sabathia, the quality of pitcher he'd be seeing in the postseason. The best news to come out of the loss was Ryan Dempster's performance -- he allowed four hits and a run in five innings, throwing 80 pitches, in a final pre-playoff outing.
Or not. If the Brewers win today and the Mets lose, Milwaukee wins the wild card and Sabathia would probably then not pitch Sunday. (Parenthetical good news: the Brewers' win eliminated the Astros from the wild-card race, meaning the Cubs will NOT have to go to Houston for the Hurricane Ike-postponed makeup game.) The Cubs will have something to say about this, of course. The races this year have been pretty wild. I think we've got a couple of days of craziness left.