The National League Wild Card race is getting interesting

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Much of the focus has been on the American League Wild Card, and understandably so given that the Red Sox are involved, but the Wild Card race in the National League is becoming more intriguing by the day.

The Cardinals won again last night, 4-2 over the Phillies in 11 innings, giving them their third straight victory and their eighth in their last nine. Meanwhile, the Braves were hammered by the Mets 12-2 at Turner Field.

The surging Cardinals now find themselves 3 1/2 games back of the Braves for the Wild Card and just three games back in the loss column. Just to show you how quickly things have tightened up here, the Braves held an 8 1/2 game lead on September 5.

So here’s the deal: The Braves’ magic number to clinch the Wild Card remains at nine. The Braves have 11 games left on the schedule while the Cardinals will play 12 more. I don’t want Craig to be miserable or anything, but some late-September drama would be a lot of fun.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.