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Maddon, Cubs celebrate end to playoff drought

Joe Maddon leads the Cubs to the playoffs in his first season.

Joe Maddon leads the Cubs to the playoffs in his first season.

CHICAGO — The blaring music and smell of sparkling wine were unmistakable once the doors opened to the media.

By then, the Cubs' clubhouse was mostly empty. Players and coaches were back on the field, dousing each other, posing for pictures and trading hugs.

Fans chanted "Thank you, Tom! Thank you, Tom!" at drenched chairman Tom Ricketts.

The last to leave the field was first-year manager Joe Maddon, wearing a 2015 postseason cap and a towel draped around his neck. He waved to fans yelling "Joe! Joe! Joe!" as he exited.

The Cubs lost 4-0 to the Pirates on Saturday afternoon, but Maddon, the former Rays manager, and the Cubs weren't going to let that spoil their celebration.

With the Giants losing to the Athletics on Friday night, Chicago clinched its first postseason berth since 2008. The Cubs could have wrapped it up earlier that day, but a loss to the Pirates put the celebration on hold.

They finally got their chance to let loose after Saturday's game.

"We didn't win the game" Saturday, Maddon said, "but we have won the season to this point."

That, of course, would be winning the World Series for the first time since 1908.

The Cubs' road back to the playoffs was difficult. Chicago endured five straight losing seasons before this year and a top-to-bottom overhaul under president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer.

"(Friday) night, there was an awful lot of thinking back to like 2011, 2012, and how daunting a task it seemed for a lot of people involved," said Epstein, who acknowledged he was barely awake when San Francisco lost.

Saturday, the Cubs were tipping their caps as fans roared after a pregame video tribute.

"The feeling around Wrigleyville and in Chicago now is one that hasn't been here for a long time," NL Cy Young Award candidate Jake Arrieta said. "I'm just happy to be a part of it with these group of guys and with the people, the fans, that are behind us."

CARDS LOSE STARTER: Cardinals RHP Carlos Martinez will miss the rest of the season and postseason with a shoulder strain that won't require surgery. Martinez had a 3.01 ERA in 1792/3 innings over 29 starts and two relief appearances. Also, RHP Adam Wainwright threw 27 pitches in a simulated game as he continues his recover from a torn left Achilles suffered in April. The former ace might be available out of the bullpen in the postseason.

AUSMUS SAFE: Brad Ausmus will return as Tigers manager in 2016, GM Al Avila said amid reports that the second-year manager would be fired. Avila said Ausmus was dealing with severe roster limitations as Detroit dropped to last in the AL Central after four straight division titles.

BREWERS: RF Ryan Braun, who will need back surgery after the season, returned to the starting lineup after missing seven games.

DODGERS: 1B Adrian Gonzalez was scratched with a pinched nerve in his lower back.

METS: INF Juan Uribe might not be available early in the playoffs because of an injury involving his chest cartilage. Manager Terry Collins said Uribe aggravated the injury on a swing Friday night.

RANGERS: OF/DH Josh Hamilton returned to the starting lineup just a little more than two weeks after surgery to repair a slight meniscus tear in his left knee.

Maddon, Cubs celebrate end to playoff drought 09/26/15 [Last modified: Saturday, September 26, 2015 9:02pm]
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