Maddon excited for significance of final day

Maddon excited for significance of final day

MILWAUKEE -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon planned on scoreboard watching Sunday. Chicago began the day one game behind Pittsburgh in the National League Wild Card standings.

A win over the Brewers and a Pirates loss to the Reds at PNC Park would have shifted Wednesday's NL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser to Wrigley Field. But after the Cubs earned a 3-1 win over the Brewers, the Pirates locked up home field with a 4-0 victory over the Reds.

Maddon knows all about having Game 162 determine whether or not a team makes the postseason. On Sept. 28, 2011, the last game of the regular season, his Rays faced the Yankees with a postseason berth on the line, and fell behind, 7-0, after five innings. He was worried that he would need the bullpen in a possible one-game playoff against the Red Sox, but could monitor Boston's score that day.

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"That game was concurrent with ours, so you could look at that," he said of the Red Sox game against the Orioles, which they lost.

The Rays rallied to win, 8-7, in 12 innings, thanks to Evan Longoria's walk-off home run. Having all of Sunday's games start at the same time will help, he said.

"It matters to be able to look at the scoreboard and try to figure out what you want to do," Maddon said.

The Cubs didn't have any surprises planned for Sunday's season finale against the Brewers.

"We're not going to do anything differently," he said. "There's not anything new to put in there -- there's no new packages, we're not bringing a new offense, we're not going to blitz any more, no 3-4 [formation]. Just go play. Please don't do anything differently, just go play."

Worth noting

• Maddon says he's "90 percent mentally" set on the lineup for Wednesday's National League Wild Card Game against the Pirates but isn't ready to reveal it yet. All that's certain is that Jake Arrieta will start in the Cubs' first playoff game since 2008.

"I'm getting closer," Maddon said Sunday of his lineup.

He not only wouldn't tell the media anything but hasn't talked to the players yet.

"I want to just keep playing," he said. "Let's win today's game. If [the Pirates] lose, everything kind of changes. There's no travel to worry about. You don't have to worry about getting your wife there and back."

• Is the manager more important in the postseason?

"I think I'm less important, actually," Maddon said. "My intent in the postseason is to try to stay out of the way as much as possible. Overall, it's about the players, it's the players' game. I think it's even more so about them. During the season, there's more manipulation of things regarding lineups, you may try some different things because you have time. In the playoffs, you don't have the same luxury of time. It's more about the players."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.