With a 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves, the Pittsburgh Pirates have clinched a spot among the two Wild Card teams in the National League, but also have enough time to try and win the NL Central, beating the St. Louis Cardinals to it. The Cards did lose 4-3 to the Chicago Cubs which makes things very interesting for the season finale, but considering their schedule they shouldn’t be too worried.
The Pirates have now 15 of their last 18 games, including two so far of their four-game series in Atlanta. They’ve narrowed the Cardinals’ lead down to 1.5 games in the NL Central, with both teams still having four games left to play. Right now, it looks like they’ll be playing the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card game, but there is still a chance that matchup gets changed, and the Pirates will go automatically to the ALDS.
The win over the Braves didn’t come easily. Atlanta, out of the race already for anything, took a 2-0 lead in the first and second inning through a Freddie Freeman double and Andrelton Simmons grounding into a double play which was enough for another run. But Gerrit Cole settled and finished the game giving up just four hits while striking out eight batters. The Pirates didn’t have a great day at bat, but scored first on a throwing error, followed by a home run by Travis Snider before the winning hit was delivered by Starling Marte.
In Chicago, the Cubs managed to beat the Cardinals 4-3 as catcher Wellington Castillo hit a game-winning RBI single in the 10th inning. It was a big day for Castillo who started it off with a two-run homer in the second inning, followed by Matt Szczur hitting a single to put them 3-0 up in the third. The Cardinals bounced back with a Jon Jay RBI and a Matt Holiday two-run homer, his 20th home run of the seasons.
It’s the second loss in three games for the Cardinals, who sit on top of the NL Central with a 88-70 record. This means they’re only 1.5 games ahead of the Pirates, and might have something to think about and even worry slightly as they head into their final four games of the season.
The good news? Only one more game to go in Chicago against a tough to read and unpredictable Cubs team before heading for a three-game road series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are probably going to end up as the worst team in Baseball this season, currently flaunting a 63-95 record.