Well, the Cubs did it.
After beating the St. Louis Cardinals by a final score of 5-1 last night, they’ve clinched the NL Central for the second consecutive season.
It’s especially good that they won that game (and did so decisively), because elsewhere, the Brewers lost to the Reds 6-0, which could’ve/would’ve been the clinching loss for the Cubs, had the Cubs lost, themselves. And, that’s much less fun.
Of course, watching the Cubs clinch probably wasn’t even the worst news of the night for the Cardinals and Brewers. Instead, that likely had something to do with the Rockies winning their 86th game of the season (a 15-9 tilt in Colorado over the Marlins), which leaves the NL (second) Wild Card race nearing a finish:
Second NL Wild Card Race:
- Rockies (86-73)
- Brewers (83-75): Elimination Number 2
- Cardinals (82-76): Elimination Number 1
Given that the Cubs have beaten the Cardinals five times and the Brewers three times since September 15, you can say the Cubs have played a hugely disruptive role in their individual stretch runs. Nice. And the Rockies are appreciative:
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) September 28, 2017
In the American League, the Minnesota Twins clinched a playoff berth as the second wild card team, once the Chicago White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels in extra innings. Here’s a fantastic shot of the Twins watching the end of that one (and celebrating to the max) in the locker room:
The moment… pic.twitter.com/unQQnkB84y
— Dustin Morse (@morsecode) September 28, 2017
Wow. They are AMPED up. Though, to be fair, they had just a 4.8% chance of reaching the postseason on the first day of the year, according to FanGraphs. So, actually, yeah, that’s pretty freakin’ awesome. (They also haven’t made the playoffs since 2010, and haven’t won a playoff game since 2004.)
Of course, the rest of the playoff contestants aren’t exactly a collection of long shots. Take a look at the division winners around baseball:
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
NL East: Washington Nationals
AL West: Houston Astros
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
AL West: Boston Red Sox*
* The Red Sox haven’t clinched the division yet, but their magic number is down to 2. And even if they don’t clinch the division, they’ll still go to the postseason as a Wild Card team (flipping with the Yankees).
So, let’s look at those division winners.
In the National League, you have the reigning 2016 World Series and National League Central champions (Cubs), alongside the reigning 2016 NL East and NL West champions (Nationals and Dodgers). In the American League, you have the reigning 2016 AL Pennant and AL Central champions (Indians), alongside the reigning AL East champions (Red Sox), and the strong pre-season favorite Houston Astros in the AL West. Essentially, there was not a single surprise among the lot.
So basically, bring on the Twins, Rockies, Yankees, and Diamondbacks. The Cubs can’t only tackle giants on their way to a second straight World Series title, right? #LetsWinTwo