wrigley scoreboard featureThese are always so much more fun to do after a Cubs win

For weeks and weeks now, the primary team to be watching in this space was the Giants. They were the Cubs’ primary threat for the second Wild Card spot, which is the Cubs’ most likely playoff spot. Indeed, there was a time not that long ago that the Giants actually led the Cubs for a Wild Card spot. But as the Cubs heated up and the Giants played through a tough stretch, the Cubs not only rocketed past the Giants, they built a sizable lead. Indeed, last night, the Giants lost for the 7th straight time, dropping them 8.0 games behind the Cubs.

It’s been such a bad stretch for the Giants that they’re not even the next team behind the Cubs in the Wild Card standings anymore.

I mentioned them a bit this week, and, sure enough, as the Giants kept losing, and the Nationals kept winning, the day finally arrived: the Nationals passed the Giants in the Wild Card standings. At 7.5 games back (8 in the loss column), the Nats are the closest team to watch right now. Crazy how that happened.

The Nationals now being behind the Cubs has more to do with the Giants’ struggles than the Nationals surging, though I would caution that a Nats surge is certainly possible, given the roster. (Or, with their manager running things, is it not so possible?)

Of course, if they do surge, it’s still more likely that they would overtake the Mets in the NL East than the Cubs in the Wild Card. Speaking of which, the Mets lost last night to the Marlins, shrinking their lead over the Nats to 5.0 games.

Meanwhile, the Pirates and Cardinals opened their weekend series with a blowout Pirates win. They’ve pulled to within 5.5 games of the Cardinals in the Central, and the Cubs climbed to 9.5 games out. The Cubs are 4.0 games behind the Pirates.