The Cubs beat up on the Astros last night to seal a series win (and a ridiculous record in interleague play this year), and move their Magic Number down a notch.
But not just one notch. The Cardinals had lost to the Brewers earlier in the day, so the Cubs’ Magic Number to clinch the NL Central actually fell two spots, from 7 to just 5. With a three game set on tap in St. Louis starting today, then, the Cubs have a chance to clinch the Central at Busch Stadium while the Cardinals watch. To do so will require a series sweep, though, so it’s not necessarily likely. No one will complain about that, I suspect, since the Cubs head back to Wrigley Field after the Cardinals series, which would give them a great chance to clinch at home. Which would also be nice.
As for those Cardinals, they were the only member of the mostly three-team Wild Card race in the NL to lose yesterday, so they fell a half-game behind the Mets for the second Wild Card spot, and the Giants remain a game and a half ahead of those Mets. The Marlins won, and are hanging around at 5.0 games out.
The Pirates, however, lost, which not only pushed them to 6.0 games out of the Wild Card, it also officially eliminated them from contention in the NL Central. Can’t say I saw the Pirates being eliminated from the Central race by the second week of September back in March. But here we are. The Cubs have been that good, and the Pirates have been that disappointing.