The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead on a series of defensive miscues, as Osuna and Bader managed to misplay an easily catchable fly ball (I can say that; I am certain that I would not have caught it) to load the bases ahead of a passed ball where it looked like Yadi got crossed up on the pitch. But the Cards tied it on a DeJong homer not much later and it was 1-1 for a long time. At least until Castellanos hit his own solo shot to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. My buddy departed early after the end of the 7th inning -- we'd left a lot of games early this year due to long-running games and long lines for the bus back to the parking lot -- but I figured it was Closing Day and the Cardinals and a good game, so I'd watch the rest of it.
Before the ninth inning started, I thought to myself that whatever happened in the game, I had seen a *very* good baseball game. It would be nice if the Cardinals won (because the Brewers were busy winning), but it had still been a good game.
And then in the top of the 9th inning, Almora -- just inserted for defense -- failed to make what would have been a great running catch with Jose Martinez pinch hitting for the Cards to lead off the inning. This turned into a triple and the run scored when the next batter, Fowler, hit a sacrifice fly to center and now the game was tied.
Darvish had started and had pitched a great game for the Cubs. And then everything came unraveled, as Edman singled, stole second, and scored on a Goldschmidt double just inside the third base bag. The Cards led 3-2, Darvish left the game and Strop entered. Walk, strikeout, strikeout, and we were off to the bottom of the ninth. Miller came in to close out the game. The Cubs got a two out single from Heyward, but that was the extent of their offense.
And the Cards swept the series and the Wrigley Field regular season was over. Quite possibly the whole Wrigley Field season was over, because that win/loss combination officially eliminated the Cubs from the Central Division race and left them four games behind the Brewers for the second wild card slot with six games left to play. This lead is not insurmountable, but would actually require the Brewers to lose some games which they seem exceedingly reluctant to do.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals have guaranteed that they can't finish worse than in the second wild card slot, so they will be back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015. And they have a three game lead over the Brewers for the Central Division title with six games left to play.
This makes me happy.
The Cardinals magic number is down to four.
It's been a while since I had to worry about that. :)