The last time Greg Maddux didn’t appear in the postseason was 1992, his last year with the Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately for Maddux and the Cubs, his first season back in the Windy City will have the same result.
As his former Atlanta Braves teammates prepare for yet another playoff appearance, Maddux will face them in the season finale for both teams, pitching the last game in one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.
After an 11-year career in Atlanta, the four-time Cy Young Award winner returned to Chicago in the offseason, hoping to be a key component of a Cubs team that was expected to contend for a World Series.
Instead, a season that started with such high hopes, ended on Saturday, as the Cubs suffered their fifth straight loss, 8-6 to the Braves.
“If you told me at the All-Star break we could be going home Oct. 3, I would have told you you were crazy,” outfielder Moises Alou said. “It hurts so bad because we had such a good team. I thought we would have a longer ride. I’m very disappointed. We’re a lot better than this. Everybody knows there is no way the Cubs should be out.”
They are out because they lost seven of their last eight games to squander the wild-card lead in the last week. Chicago led this game 6-2 before the Braves rallied.
Maddux, who extended his own major league record with his 17th straight 15-win season, contributed to the Cubs’ demise, as his 8-3 loss to the Reds on Tuesday night began the team’s five-game slide. He allowed six runs and six hits—including three home runs—en route to losing for the third time in his last five starts.
“We won the game but lost two guys along the way,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “Chipper’s going to be OK. Thomson, I don’t know. He pulled a side muscle. That’s a booger for anybody in a baseball uniform. You can’t throw, hit or swing with that.”
While Jones has a bruised right hand from being struck by a fastball from Carlos Zambrano in the fifth inning, he should be ready for the division series. However, he won’t play in today’s season finale, leaving him four RBIs shy of a ninth consecutive 100-RBI season.
The greater concern is Thomson, who is scheduled to start Game 2 of the NLDS.
“I don’t think it’s serious,” Thomson said. “I haven’t missed a start since I came back from (1999) shoulder surgery, and I don’t plan on missing one now.”
The Braves said he will be examined again Sunday.