September 26: Cardinals (88-71) @ D-backs (63-96)
The Cardinals still control their own playoff destiny, but they gave themselves little breathing room by losing two of three in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Pirates continue to win and with their latest victory on Thursday have pulled to within one game of the Cardinals. That means there is a chance that we have a tie atop the National League Central as early as the end of the night.
The Pirates finish their season with three games against the Reds, who will be without Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Billy Hamilton (all related to injuries) all weekend. Reds manager Bryan Price did reach out to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (via the teams’ PR staffs) to let him know that the Reds will play to win this weekend.
If there were to be a tie between the Pirates and Cardinals after Sunday, the two teams would meet in a one-game playoff on Monday in Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have already put tickets on sale for that game but have not yet announced a start time for it.
As for Game 160 today, Jon Jay has returned from his personal leave and is back in the lineup, batting second. Michael Wacha returns to the mound for a fourth start post-surgery and the final time before the Cardinals have to decide if/how he fits into the club’s postseason picture. Wacha should no longer be limited in pitch count. The biggest question remaining is whether his changeup can become a weapon again right now.
The D-backs will be managed by Alan Trammell this weekend, as he fills in for Kirk Gibson, who was fired by Tony La Russa (chief baseball officer) earlier today. Trammell, who was Gibson’s bench coach, was also relieved of his duties, but agreed to stay on for three more days to manage.
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