For the first time in what feels like a very long time, the Chicago Cubs’ Magic Number to clinch the NL Central is the same today as it was yesterday: 10.
That’s because not only did the Cubs lose to the Brewers last night in spectacular fashion, but the Cardinals also won last night in equally, but differently, spectacular fashion. Having blown a five-run lead to the Pirates – in a must-win game for the Pirates – the Cardinals were down to their last strike in the 9th inning when Matt Carpenter homered to tie the game.
His homer was the Cardinals’ 15th pinch hit homer of the year, a new record (in case you were wondering what their Voodoo Magic specialty was this year). Randal Grichuk and Jhonny Peralta followed with homers later in the inning, and the game was over.
All nine of the Cardinals’ runs came via five homers, by the way. They are among the most homer-happy teams in a very homer-happy year for baseball. It’s worth pointing out that, in a short playoff series, a spate of homers can turn things quickly and decisively.
As for the Pirates … oof. Not only have they not won since the Cubs pulled off that kind of heartbreaker against them a WEEK ago last Monday, but last night’s debacle probably sealed their season. They’re now 5.5 games behind the Cardinals, and, even if they manage to win today, coming back from a 4.5-game deficit in the Wild Card (and leapfrogging the Mets in the process) with four weeks left to play is going to be an enormously tall task.
Speaking of those Mets, they won again – as did the Giants – so the top of the Wild Card race remains unchanged. The Giants are up 0.5 games on the Cardinals, who are up 1.0 game on the Mets. (The Marlins lost again, despite the surprise re-appearance of Giancarlo Stanton, and they’re basically as toast as the Pirates.)
As for the Cubs, they lost a game to both the Cardinals in the Central and the Nationals in the overall record standings. The Cubs’ leads in those races are down to 15.5 and 8.0 games, respectively. (Lulz.)