NL Central Roundup: One – Maybe Even Two! – Of These Teams, Will Make The Playoffs, In Spite Of Themselves
NL Central Roundup
The 2019 Cubs are like the photo negative of Michael Corleone in “Godfather 3” – every time I think they’re in, they shove themselves right back out.
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A week ago, they were in a virtual tie with St. Louis. They had finally won a road series and were heading back to Wrigley, where they’ve been exceptional all season. The Cards and Brewers were poised to beat each other up for three days, while the Cubs awaited a faltering Giants squad. All the ingredients were there…the Cubs had a stewgoing, baby!
However, they’re now 2.5 games further back than they were. The stew’s rotting in the trash.
This time, at least, they didn’t waste our time pretending they’re a serious contender. Yes, they swept the Giants – sorry, that’s the lowly Giants, a team an armless man could sweep – but they did in games where (in order) they had to come back twice, gave up 11 runs, and got all of two hits. Then the Nationals came to town, making sure to pack their brooms, and the Cubs never led all weekend. At home.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals threw up a 6-1 week, four of which were laughers, and started off the week by rabbit-punching the Brewers for two days. They threw two shutouts in six days and scored 46 runs. They’re now 27-14 since the All-Star break and seem determined to take a firm grasp of this moldy orange of a division.
As for the Brewers, they seem determined to keep their schedules free for the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, scheduled for October 6th (and ending on the shores of Lake Michigan this year!). Mediocre before the break, they’ve since gone 20-21, DFA’d their Opening Day starter, and put their future in the hands of such luminaries as Jay Jackson, Cory Spangenberg, and Aaron Wilkerson (which sound like names from Nondescript.com’s White People Generator). Their window seems to have been slammed shut by their starting pitchers, all of whom injured themselves in the process (cut to video of Mets fans nodding grimly).
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The Reds and Pirates managed to complete all their games this week, decided not to punch each other this time, and probably are the sort of people who tip waiters and staff well. After all, life is best when one experiences joy, and when your professional life is in tatters, what feels better than sharing one’s affluence? Aristides Aquino hit just one home run in seven games, which one assumes was a protest of some sort, while Felipe Vazquez hogged the Pirates’ spotlight by winning two games and saving another. You’d think that a man with all those tattoos, and whose sister negotiated his last contract, wouldn’t be so attention-starved, but who knows? Insecurity does funny things to a man.
This week is a make-or-break one for the Brewers, who face both the Cardinals (at home) and Cubs (at Wrigley). The Cubs will first try to dust themselves off with a series at Citi Field (which I’m attending tomorrow!), while the Cardinals finish the week hosting Cincinnati. With another strong showing, the Cardinals can put some serious distance (given how few games remain) between themselves and the rest of the division. Elsewhere, the Pirates will further their humanitarian efforts by allowing the Phillies and Rockies some professional success.