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CINCINNATI — After seizing their 103rd victory in dramatic fashion Sunday, the Cubs afforded themselves one last postgame party before shifting focus to more urgent business.Manager Joe Maddon was a "victim" of the celebration, as he was doused...

Cubs savor one last victory party before playoffs begin

CINCINNATI — After seizing their 103rd victory in dramatic fashion Sunday, the Cubs afforded themselves one last postgame party before shifting focus to more urgent business.Manager Joe Maddon was a "victim" of the celebration, as he was doused...

 Cubs savor one last victory party before playoffs begin

CINCINNATI — After seizing their 103rd victory in dramatic fashion Sunday, the Cubs afforded themselves one last postgame party before shifting focus to more urgent business.

Manager Joe Maddon was a "victim" of the celebration, as he was doused with cold water in his office after the Cubs rallied for a 7-4 victory against the Reds.

Matt Szczur hit a two-run double and pinch hitter Miguel Montero hit a two-run home run — all with two out in the ninth — to lift the Cubs.

"This is the day we've been waiting for, to get the regular season done with, and it was cool to end it on a good note like that," Kyle Hendricks said. "But now we're ready. We've been waiting for this."

The Cubs will prepare for Friday's Game 1 of the National League Division Series at Wrigley Field against either the Mets or Giants.

"Who gives a (bleep)?" Jake Arrieta said when asked who he'd rather face. "Now the fun starts. That's what we've been waiting three weeks for."

The hitters have been waiting longer, especially after they were swept by the Mets' dominant starting pitching in the 2015 NL Championship Series.

The Cubs won't face Noah Syndergaard or Madison Bumgarner in their first playoff game Friday, but they know they'll encounter their share of formidable starting pitching if they hope to win the World Series.

That theme was driven home every time they faced a potential playoff opponent as they sprinted to the 2016 NL Central title and seized home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

After being swept by the Mets in last year's NLCS, the Cubs' hitters can't wait for the chance to gain some redemption against power pitchers on the playoff stage.

Cubs don't give a bleep about their 1st-round playoff opponent Paul Sullivan

Everyone seemingly has a preference as to which team they'd like to see the Cubs play in the National League Division Series.

Perhaps the best option is the Mets, who clinched a wild-card spot on Saturday, but have been hit hard by injuries, particularly to their rotation.

Or maybe it's the Giants...

Everyone seemingly has a preference as to which team they'd like to see the Cubs play in the National League Division Series.

Perhaps the best option is the Mets, who clinched a wild-card spot on Saturday, but have been hit hard by injuries, particularly to their rotation.

Or maybe it's the Giants...

(Paul Sullivan)

"We're all ready," Anthony Rizzo said. "To be the best, you have to beat the best."

The Cubs lost to Bumgarner twice during the regular season and split two decisions with Nationals ace Max Scherzer.

Syndergaard has struck out 25 in his last three starts against the Cubs, but he's scheduled to pitch Wednesday night in the NL wild-card game to determine the Cubs' first-round opponent.

Cubs scouts and executives have been gathering data on potential playoff opponents for a while, but Cubs hitters trust their eyes and believe they'll be ready to face top-shelf pitchers.

"The experience helps a ton," said David Ross, who will participate in his seventh postseason. "The focus you need in the playoffs is different than the regular season. The experience they gained last year is only going to help them, and I've seen them grow throughout this year to be better players."

Maddon is trying to keep the Cubs' routine simple, even to the point of not holding the pre-series scouting meeting for hitters until hours before the Cubs' first playoff game.

"I want them to go out there with a clear and free mind," Maddon said. "There's no information right now that's above and beyond pertinent. You might grab a nugget or two. I'm all about the nugget.

"But I don't want them carrying anything differently than you've been seeing them play and winning (103) games. I don't want them to be any different."

mgonzales@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @MDGonzales

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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