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California, Here We Come: Cubs 1, Brewers 3

I have only one word to say about today's game:

What on Earth is Bob Howry doing on a major league roster, much less a playoff roster?

OK, that's 17 words, but you get my point. Ryan Braun smacked a game-winning homer in the 8th inning off Howry and the Brewers beat the Cubs 3-1, and when the Marlins beat the Mets 4-2, the Mets were eliminated and the Brewers won the NL Wild Card, sending the Cubs into a first-ever postseason matchup with the Dodgers.

Bob Howry. What is Lou thinking? Howry has allowed 13 home runs in 70.2 innings -- a horrendous ratio for a relief pitcher (comparison point: in 66.1 innings, Kerry Wood allowed three home runs all season). It was the first homer, granted, that he had allowed since August 14 in Atlanta, when he came into a game the Cubs were leading 11-4 and made it close enough that Wood had to come into a non-save situation in the 9th inning.

The Cubs, obviously, didn't play today's game like a regular game -- it was more like the first day of spring training, where no pitcher goes more than two innings. And until Howry, everyone else threw pretty well, except Sean Marshall, who was charged with the tying run when Michael Wuertz, who also didn't throw very well, issued two walks, one with the bases loaded. And now, Mr. Wuertz, you know why you spent most of your summer in Des Moines.

The Cubs did have a shot at tying the game of CC Sabathia in the 9th -- I had just said, to the TV (no one else was here watching with me!), "Say, maybe Theriot should take off for second", thinking Derrek Lee was a DP candidate. Sure enough, he grounded to second, starting a game-ending double play, his 27th of the season, ending the regular season by tying Ron Santo's team record, which had stood since 1973. Maybe a runner on 2nd would have put Salomon Torres into the game, and the Cubs have hit Torres very hard this month.

The bottom line was, the Brewers needed the game more than the Cubs did, and this doesn't reflect what might happen, a couple of weeks down the road, when the Cubs and Brewers could meet in the NLCS. Actually, I'd look forward to that -- it would be a heck of a series.

But first, there are Dodgers to defeat; I'll have more to say about that before Wednesday. Since the TV moguls were probably waiting to see if their crews had to wait to head to LA or NY for the Cub series games 3 (and 4, if necessary), now that the NL matchups are set, game times should follow in short order (it shouldn't really matter to them whether the White Sox or Twins go to Tampa, for game time purposes, and that won't be known till at least tomorrow).

In the meantime, enjoy a couple of days off. We all need them, I think. (And Lou, you still have time to put someone else -- Gaudin, Wuertz, ANYONE -- on the postseason roster instead of Howry.)