wrigley scoreboard featureThanks to stellar pitching and a Kris Bryant bomb, the Cubs beat the Astros last night, shrinking the team’s Magic Number in the NL Central to 7.

The Brewers lost an early 3-0 lead to the Cardinals, and wound up losing their game last night 4-3. That means the Cubs’ Magic Number didn’t drop any further on the day.

The Nationals also won yesterday, so the Cubs didn’t get any help there for the best record in the National League. Still, with the Cubs’ win, their Magic Number to clinch the best record – and the right to play the Wild Card winner in the NLDS – fell to 15.





(As SSC pointed out to me yesterday in the comments, since the Cubs hold the tiebreaker over the Nationals by virtue of winning five of the seven games the teams played head-to-head this year, you could actually think of the Magic Number as 14, since the Nationals will have to pass the Cubs entirely in order to secure the top seed.)

We don’t really track the AL Wild Card race, but since the Cubs are actually playing the Astros right now, I’ll point out: the loss last night was especially rough, because both of the top two Wild Card teams also lost. The Astros could have pulled to within just 1.5 games if they’d been able to beat the Cubs. BP indicates that the loss dropped their Wild Card playoff odds more than five percentage points. Oof.

Over on the NL side of the ledger, all three of the close teams won yesterday, so it’s still the Giants at the top of the heap by a half game, the Mets in the second spot, and the Cardinals a half game behind. The Marlins won and the Pirates lost, so they’re now both 5.0 games out. Each of those two teams have Wild Card odds in the 1 to 2% range, so they’re basically toast.

If the Cubs can win just one of these next two games in Houston, they will have the potential to clinch in St. Louis with a sweep no matter what the Cardinals do the rest of this weekend. To have a good chance, though, you’d want to see that Magic Number down to 4, which means a series win for the Cubs in St. Louis would do the trick.






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