Wanting to see the Cubs overtake the Pirates in the Wild Card race is not solely about getting the Wild Card Game at Wrigley Field. There’s also the buffer that being in the top Wild Card spot creates – just in case the Giants and or Nationals go on an absolutely unstoppable run, overtaking the Pirates gives the Cubs all the more runway to not miss the playoffs. And then there’s also the teeny, tiny remaining chance of winning the NL Central. The Cubs can top the Cardinals all they want, but if they don’t also pass the Pirates, then it was for naught.
Also, home field advantage is actually pretty valuable, even in a single game. Jeff Sullivan concluded that it is worth enough to take a game to 54% in favor of the home team, 46% in favor of the road team. That 8% spread isn’t nothing.
Against all that backdrop (offered not coincidentally today), the latest scores of note …
Those Pirates did lose yesterday, 6-4 to the Giants. New Giant Marlon Byrd, whom the team added in the wake of Hunter Pence’s injury, hit a two-run homer, doubled, and singled. In one game, he pretty much made that trade worthwhile.
With the loss, the Pirates’ lead over the Cubs for the top Wild Card spot dropped to 3.0 games. The Cubs’ lead over the Giants remains 4.0 games.
The Cardinals also lost yesterday, 9-3 to the Padres, who beat up on John Lackey and Carlos Villanueva. The Cubs climbed to within 7.5 games of the Cardinals, as they continue to hover within the “it’s not impossible, but …” zone. It’s kind of like the Friend Zone.
The Dodgers were no-hit by Mike Fiers of the Astros, so their lead over the Giants is now just 1.5 games. That’s going to bear watching. If the Giants were currently past the Dodgers, the Dodgers would trail the Cubs by 2.5 games for the second Wild Card spot.
The Nationals lost again to fall a game under .500, tying them with the Diamondbacks and taking them off of my radar for the purposes of this post. Heck, they’re just a half-game better than the Padres. It’s NL East or bust for the Nationals at this point.