The Cubs beat the Brewers last night in the 10th inning once again, which means the magic number is going down, but maybe not as much as you were thinking.
Because the Cardinals won last night, too, they actually leapfrogged the Brewers into second place in the Central, and the Cubs’ magic number vis a vis the Cardinals went down only one game (even though it went down two games vis a vis the Brewers). Thus, the Cubs’ magic number to clinch the Central is …
Ah. Nomar. So great with the Red Sox for so many years, traded to the Cubs at the end of his contract and as he turned 31, and then boom, his career arc plummeted. Kudos to Theo Epstein on the timing there (and not just because the Red Sox went on to win the World Series that year).
As a further aside, looking back at the trade, it was pretty much a nothingburger for the Cubs on both sides. Garciaparra was largely a non-factor in his year and a half with the Cubs, but the Cubs gave up Justin Jones, Francis Beltran, Brendan Harris, and Alex Gonzalez in the three-team trade to get him. Nothing really of note there, except perhaps the fact that the Cubs also got Matt Murton in the trade (and he was later part of the trade to get Rich Harden, as well as Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson, and … Josh Donaldson).
Anyway, back to the standings. So now the Cubs have a 5.5 game lead on the Brewers, who are all but cooked in the Central race. The Cardinals remain 5.0 games back.
In the Wild Card race, the Rockies finally won a game, so the Brewers fall to 2.0 games back, and the Cardinals hold at 1.5 games back.
How crushing have the last three games been for the Brewers? In each of them, if they’d only been able to hold a lead, they win those three games. And then they would LEAD the second Wild Card spot by a game, and trail the Cubs by a mere half-game. Oof.