Chicago Cubs Magic Number Watch: 9 and Shrinking

The Chicago Cubs magic number fell to 9 last night as the St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates. That not only hurt themselves in the Wild Card race, which is neck and neck between them, the Mets and the Giants, but it also helped the Cubs. See, Cardinals can actually be helpful sometimes.

The Cubs offense went in stall mode last night against the Brewers. It’s never fun to see when it happens but I’ll gladly take it now if it means they blow up in the playoffs. Joe Maddon has been rotating guys much more frequently on the offense to give them some rest so they’re fresh for the playoffs. That’s a very nice luxury to have.

Chicago has an off day today but the Cardinals play the Brewers so there’s a chance that the Cubs magic number can fall again. If the magic number is six or less after Sunday then the Cubs could clinch against St. Louis. Here’s a look at the National League Central standings as of this morning.

Chi Cubs 89 50 .640 7-3 9/9 @ HOU, 8:10 PM
St. Louis 73 65 .529 15.5 9 5-5 9/8 vs MIL, 7:15 PM
Pittsburgh 68 69 .496 20.0 5 2-8 9/8 vs CIN, 7:05 PM
Milwaukee 62 77 .446 27.0 E 6-4 9/8 @ STL, 7:15 PM
Cincinnati 57 81 .413 31.5 E 2-8 9/8 @ PIT, 7:05 PM

The Cubs play the Houston Astros in a three game series starting tomorrow. The Cardinals will host the Brewers for a four game series that starts today. Worst case, the Cubs win one game and the Cardinals sweep, bringing the magic number to 8 games and making it impossible for the Cubs to clinch in St. Louis.

A more likely scenario, perhaps, would be the Cubs winning 2-of-3, the Cardinals winning 2-of-4, and the Cubs magic number getting reduced to 5 by the end of the weekend. Either way, the Cubs should be ready to clinch next week and if they don’t do it at St. Louis – which, for the record, I hope they don’t – they will clinch at Wrigley Field and that is what we all would love to see. They have a nine game home stand starting next Thursday night.

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