The National League Central is all wrapped up, folks.
In a pretty cool scene at Miller Park, the Brewers and their fans just watched the Cubs beat the Cardinals 5-1. Combined with a 4-1 win over the Marlins only moments earlier, the Brewers have clinched their first division title since they won the American League East in 1982.
Yovani Gallardo was brilliant tonight, striking out 11 over 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball, but was handed a no-decision. The Brewers pulled in front for good thanks to a go-ahead three-run homer by MVP candidate Ryan Braun in the bottom of the eighth inning. John Axford sat the Marlins down in order in the top of the ninth to close out the victory.
Ron Roenicke has led the Brewers to a 92-65 record in his first season as manager. With a strong finish, they have a good chance of securing homefield for the NLDS.
Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.
The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.
James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.
And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:
“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”
“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.
“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.