The Brewers kicked off their generous final stretch of games with a win over the Pirates, beating up Chris Archer in the process (that trade sure hasn’t gone so well for the Pirates this year).
Starter Gio Gonzalez actually temporarily coughed up the lead, but the Brewers handed it over to their bullpen in the fifth inning, and they cruised from there, allowing just one more run across five relievers, none of whom were named Josh Hader. Whatever the Cubs’ bullpen is right now, the Brewers’ is the extreme opposite of that. That’s gonna be a big deal down the stretch and into the postseason (unless the Brewers get bounced in a single game and don’t really get to take advantage … that sure would be a shame … well, unless that other team is the Cardinals … so conflicted … ).
Anyway, the Brewers win meant that the Cubs had to win to keep a little breathing room. Thanks to Ian Happ and some surprising relievers, they did.
The lead over the Brewers remains 1.5 games, and the Cubs shrunk that magic number to Ernie Banks territory:
Meanwhile, the Cardinals lost their third in a row, falling 5.5 games behind the Cubs in the Central (elimination number is down to 10).
Worse for the Cardinals, that loss came against the Dodgers, who thus pulled into a tie with them for the second Wild Card spot. The Dodgers are just a half-game back of the Rockies, so, whether it’s the Dodgers or the Rockies, the Cardinals are going to have a serious challenge holding onto that Wild Card spot.