CHICAGO -- Monday was not Joe Maddon's first Game 163. When he managed the Rays in 2013, they needed to win Game 162, which they did to force a tiebreaker game against the Rangers.The Rays then beat the Rangers, 5-2, on Sept. 30, 2013, to secure the second American League
CHICAGO -- Monday was not Joe Maddon's first Game 163. When he managed the Rays in 2013, they needed to win Game 162, which they did to force a tiebreaker game against the Rangers.
The Rays then beat the Rangers, 5-2, on Sept. 30, 2013, to secure the second American League Wild Card spot. David Price threw a complete game for Tampa Bay.
"It's a weird vibe," Maddon said of extending the regular season. "It's different. That was a part of a three-game run where we had to win on Sunday, Monday and the Wild Card Game to eventually get to the Division Series.
"For me, it's unusual that I'm in this position again," he said. "You really try to treat it as any other game, other than bullpen utilization. The fact that it's not an elimination game -- there's another caveat attached to this, too."
Monday's tiebreaker will determine the National League Central champion. The winner will host Game 1 of the NL Division Series presented by Doosan on Thursday and have home-field advantage through the NL Championship Series, while the loser will host the NL Wild Card Game presented by Hankook Tire on Tuesday.
"I woke up today, I feel like it's a regular-season game," Maddon said. "There was no different vibe or feeling to me, other than, of course, you want to win this game. The only difference would be how do you utilize your bullpen. Today takes on a different level."
Maddon: Edwards' key is reducing walks
If you look at C.J. Edwards's statistics, they're good. He has a 2.60 ERA in 58 games this season. But Edwards has walked 32 over 52 innings, and that's not so good, for a walk rate per nine innings of 5.54.
"Look at his overall numbers for the year -- the bad part is the walks," Maddon said. "His numbers are among the elite, bullpen-wise -- the number of hits per innings pitched, the number of strikeouts per innings pitched. The walks are the thing we have to eliminate somehow."
Edwards has the potential to be a closer. However, this season, he hasn't been as consistent with his command.
"For us to be very successful like we'd like to be, it's important for him to be Carl, and that's why you have to keep throwing him out there," Maddon said. "You can't win with just a couple guys. The way this thing works, you have to have several guys to win the final game of the year. He's had a tough stretch, no question. If you look overall numbers, you'd pay big money for that in the offseason."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.