Cubs Win One They Needed while Cardinals Continue their Plummet; Dodgers Also Drop out of First Place as Rockies Peak

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Hi all. Here’s how I see baseball on this Thursday, September 27. After losing both Monday and Tuesday nights against the Pirates, the Cubs won a game they needed to maintain their lead over the Brewers. While the Cubs are now definitely in the playoffs they’d rather not lose the division lead and have to hope for the best in a wild card game. The Brew Crew meantime continued their assault and the Cardinals’ free fall by beating the Red Birds for the third night in a row in St. Louis.
The Cubs didn’t have an easy time on their way to a 7–6 win over the Pirates in 10 innings. The visiting Buccos plated 2 in the 9th to tie the game at 6 giving free baseball to Chicago fans who would have preferred not to have it. This is a most unusual phenomenon-a four-game series at Wrigley Field where all 4 are played at night, tonight being the last of the 4. Though the Pirates scored in the first, so did the Cubs-which hasn’t been happening the last couple of nights. Jason Heyward launched a 2-run shot off Ivan Nova (No Go in Spanish) but this one went the distance. Until he hit that 2-run shot, the Cubs had either scored one run or no runs the last 6 times they met the Pirates. The visitors tied the game at 6 when Starling Marte doubled home two runs off the Cubs’ Justin Wilson, who might have done better doing Cajun comedy than pitching. The Cubs’ closer Brandon Morrow, imported at great expense from the Dodgers, was hurt in July and won’t be seen in the postseason. Since then open auditions for the closer’s spot have been held and nobody has stepped forward enough to be the chosen one. With the game 6-6 in the home 10th Albert Almora JR. singled home pinch-runner Terrance Gore for the winning run.
With the win, the Cubs have a lead of half a game over the Brewers. This was a 5-game lead on September 2 but the Brewers have made a furious charge to try and pass up the Cubs. There’s just a chance the two could end up tied. The Brewers are off tonight while the Cubs play the Pirates at Wrigley again. If the Cubs win, they lead by a game. If they lose the Central division is a dead heat with 3 games left. The Brewers will host the Tigers this weekend while the Cubs face the Cardinals who are desperate to reclaim the second wild card spot. It looked like the Rockies took the wild card position from them. Now, the Rockies are on top of the NL West. If the Cubs and Brewers end up tied, they would meet in a play-in strictly for position, as one would be the division winner and one the wild card team. That game would occur Monday at Wrigley Field. This is the case because the Cubs took 11 out of 19 from their nearest neighbors, a Milwaukee team which last made the postseason in 2011. The Cubs have been in the LCS each year since 2015 and famously won their first World Series in over a century in 2016.
After the Brewers dropped a 12-pack on the Cardinals Tuesday night (a 12–4 win) they turned back the clock last night, winning 2-1. The one difference was it took 5 pitchers to hold the Cardinals to 2 base hits, something Warren Spahn or Lew Burdette could have done on their own when Milwaukee’s team was the Braves. The Brewers had to watch a year ago as the Cardinals knocked them out of the playoffs. Since then the Crew signed the former Royal outfielder Lorenzo Cain as a free agent and grabbed Christian Yelich when the Marlins had their Derek Distress sale. Both apocalyptic moves for the small-market Brewers happened on January 25. Last night Yelich scored both runs as well as incredibly walking all 5 times he came to the dish. In today’s wild-swinging baseball, the idea of walking 5 times is absurd, like something from the Barry Bonds era. Travis Shaw singled Yelich home both times for the only two runs the winning team got. Jhoulys Chacin went the requisite 5 innings with 4 relievers wrapping things up. The Brewers hadn’t swept a series in the land of Budweiser in 9 years.
The Brewers had crashed and burned as the 1969 Seattle Pilots and would have been utterly forgotten if Jim Bouton hadn’t written the hysterically funny book “Ball Four.” Since moving to Milwaukee in early 1970 this is just the fifth time the Brewers have reached the postseason. As of now they’ve won 24 of their last 34 as they hope to overhaul the Cubs.
The Yankees stumbled badly last night, choking a 3-0 lead and losing 8-7 to the Rays. They still need to win two more games and have Oakland lose in order to host the wild card game in the Bronx. Oakland didn’t oblige the Yankees by losing last night as they had on Tuesday. Instead they pounded the Mariners 9–3. The Yankees face the Rays in today’s earliest game, actually starting as I frantically type this piece. CC Sabathia is starting, but he may be gone before I finish in an effort to preserve him for the playoffs. He faces Jaime Schultz, the Rays’ opener. I hope it’s just talk, but there’s talk of both the Yankees and Oakland going to the Rays’ Bill Veeck-style move for the wild card game. The Rockies go for a 4-game sweep over the Fading Phillies later today at Coors Canaveral. They also hope to put a little breathing space between themselves and the Dodgers. In the Cubs’ game, they go with John Lester and his 17-6 mark against Trevor Williams who comes in at 14–9. Both have vastly better records than the Mets’ Jacob DeGrom who Mets’ fans loudly believe should get the Cy Young award. He at least passed the .500 mark by beating the first-place Braves last night, 3–0.

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