Cubs’ magic number still 1; Dodgers, Yanks, Astros clinch home-field advantage

“That was pretty entertaining”, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. Debate the merits of momentum in baseball all you want but, rest assured, any team would want to head into the playoffs having survived its share of close games – as the Cubs have recently.

As Eamus Catuli reset to zero in November, a sense of fait accompli accompanied every playoff discussion about the Cubs since, so much so that you wondered whether winning a division title would produce a celebration or a shrug. They responded by winning 12 of their next 14, the way champions do, including three out of four in Milwaukee over the Brewers in what felt like a playoff simulation. There’s nothing that’s going to come easily when you play against St. Louis, especially here. For apparently his final regular-season start, Lackey fared well – allowing two hits and one run while striking out three – and will end the season with 12 wins. “We’re getting ready for tomorrow”.

As the Cardinals celebrated in their clubhouse, Chicago infielder Donnie Murphy sat at his locker, expressing the hope that one day the Cubs could experience that feeling. Cardinals LF Tommy Pham (left side contusion) was back in the lineup Wednesday night after leaving the Tuesday night game for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.

The Cubs haven’t dealt with a significant number of injuries to their starting rotation, but the respective workloads of Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks may have played a part in the trio taking a step backward from 2016 to 2017. The former Cardinal and three-time World Series victor struck out three and gave up two hits and two walks.

Michael Wacha (12-9) quashed the Cubs’ offense for six scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and fanning eight on just 60 pitches.

Luis Severino (13-6, 3.03 ERA) gets a postseason tuneup for the Yankees when he starts against Tampa Bay with an eye toward his potential assignment in the AL wild-card game. Ben Zobrist hit a solo home run off Brebbia, his 12th, to make it 8-7. Tonight’s over/under runs total is at 8.5 runs for the complete game in St. Louis.

The Cardinals added two runs in the first.

The Cardinals erected metal barricades along the sidewalks surrounding Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village ahead of the final homestand because of protests following the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley on September 15.

Cardinals: Jose Martinez, who is out with sprained left thumb, will attempt to take some swings Tuesday to see if he can return to action this week. The NLDS is a best-of-five series, with Game 5 back in Washington. His quality start was yet another in what has been a very good second half for him personally, as he has gone 6-2 with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in the second half of the season. He is 8-3 with a 2.03 ERA in 16 career starts against the Cardinals.

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