The Chicago Cubs are the second team definitely in the playoffs. While they lost to the Pirates 3-2 at Wrigley Field, the Giants also lost 5-4 to Oakland, cinching a spot in the playoffs for the North Siders for the first time since 2008. This is the third time the Giants have missed the playoffs a year after winning the World Series. The same happened in 2011 and 2013, following Giants’ titles in 2010 and 2012. For the Pirates, Gerrit Cole became an 18-game winner and even drove in a run to help his cause. He’s now 18-8 after outdueling John Lester who fell to 10-12. The Cubs mounted a rally in the last of the 9th. Down 3-1, Chris DeNorfia led off with a double. After a strikeout, Starlin Castro trippled home DeNorfia to make it 3-2. But the Pirates’ ace closer Mark Melancon struck out the next two Cubs to seal the win. Later in the evening, Milwaukee helped out the Pirates cause by beating St. Louis 4-3. Khris Davis (not to be confused with the Orioles Chris Crush Davis,) launched a home run in the top of the 9th for the win. The Brewers had been down 3-1 but the score was tied when Davis hit the game winner.
Noah’s Home Ground
In the Eastern division, the Mets’ magic number is down to 1 and hopefully the ghost of 2007 can soon be laid to rest for good in the doubting hearts of Mets fans. With members of the 7 Line Army in evidence in distant Cincinnati, the Mets walloped the Reds 12-5 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. For the Mets, Noah Syndergaard bounced back beautifully after taking a beating against the Yankees last weekend. He caused a short delay in the bottom of the first because the mound dirt at Great American Ballpark wasn’t to his liking. This used to be a bigger deal for Syndergaard, so much so that his pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested he dig up a divot of the Citi Field dirt and pocket it before future road games. Noah did this and got his first win away from Citi Field. While he no longer carries a piece of his home ground along, he’s still fussy about the mound as his efforts to perfect it last night showed. An inning later, the man known as Thor to Mets fans singled home Michael Conforto with the first run of the game. It would turn out to be the first of many, unlike so many early season Mets games where they were lucky to get runs two by two. In the visitors’ half of the third, Lucas Duda took Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani way downtown with two mates aboard for a 4-0 Mets lead. With his feet firmly on the ground Syndergaard kept the Reds offense quiet, and in the 7th the Mets exploded for five more runs. The highlight was Duda hitting an even longer jolt than his shot in the 4th. This one was also a 3-run home run. In the top of the 8th, Curtis Granderson hit … yes, another 3-run home run. Earl Weaver would have loved the Mets’ attack last night. Meantime, Syndergaard kept the shutout going until there were two out in the home 8th when Brennan Boesch hit a solo home run. After a Jason Bourgeois single, Syndergaard’s night was done, and briefly it appeared the ground might open up under the rest of the Mets’ pitchers. Eric O’Flaherty gave up an RBI single to Joey Votto, the only hitter he saw. In came Bobby Parnell who gave up 3 more hits but got out of the inning with the score 12-4. In the 9th Adam Duval hit a home run off Tim Stauffer for the Reds’ final run.
The Phillies assisted the Mets as they try to clinch the Eastern division. Down 1-0 in Washington, in the top of the third Aaron Altherr hit the most rare of all home runs-an inside the park grand slam. That was enough to make a winner out of Jerad Eickhoff, but the German-American Altherr wasn’t done. Altherr, who tried out for the German national team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, hit a solo home run in the fifth and Cody Asche capped the scoring with a 3-run poke in the 8th. Altherr’s inside the park grand slam was the first since October 3, 1999 when Randy Winn hit one for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays against the Yankees. With one more Mets win or Nationals loss the division belongs to the Mets. The Phillies play the Nats at 4:05 today while the Mets-Reds game starts just five minutes later. With little hope of the Yankees catching the Bluejays and more questions than answers about their postseason fortunes, the Mets may soon own New York’s baseball headlines as they haven’t in many years. But that’s just baseball as I see it.0