NL Central Roundup: A Division For The Birds, But Maybe Not The Cardinals.

The cardinal, of the family Cardinalidae, is a bird noted for its four-clawed feet, three facing forward, and one backward. That physiology seems entirely fitting and proper, to quote Abraham Lincoln (who was not a bird), as St. Louis picked the worst possible time to take a step back after almost three months of steps forward.

Rather amazingly, they hold the Rockies to seven runs in three games in Colorado and managed to lose two of them. Then the Brewers, with their prospects as seemingly broken as Christian Yelich’s kneecap, dug deep to take two of three in St. Louis. Sunday’s victory was capped off by a dramatic 9th-inning grand slam, a Ryan Braun Busch strike (not to be confused with Braun’s Bushshrike, a species of bird native to Angola). That win, the Brewers’ fifth of the week, moved them within three games of the division lead and kept them one back of the Cubs for the 2nd wildcard spot.

NL Central Standings

Cardinals84-66
Cubs82-682
Brewers81-693

The Cubs seemed to wish they were cardinals, just further north (perhaps Northern Cardinals, the state bird of Illinois), as both Javy Baez (thumb) and Anthony Rizzo (ankle) bent one of their appendages backward in avian imitation. Baez is lost for the regular season, and it certainly looks as though Rizzo will be, carried off the field as he was by former Redbird Jason Heyward. Impressively, the North Siders still put together their finest offensive series since 1900, roughing up the grousing Pirates with a 47-run weekend barrage in a sweep (perhaps in tribute to the Ruffed Grouse, the state bird of Pennsylvania).

Chicago is now just two back of St. Louis, whom they’ll play seven times in their last 10 games, including a four-game set to close out their home schedule this weekend. Prior to that, they welcome the Reds in from Ohio, whose state bird, naturally, is the Cardinal. The Redbirds will first face the Nationals in a three-game home set, with both the division and the wildcard in play. This means both teams can take a different lesson from Honest Abe – or A.B.E., for American Bald Eagle, the national bird, and thus the closest thing we have to a Nationals bird: 

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” 

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