Strap in, folks. September figures to be pretty interesting in the National League Central.
The Brewers lost 4-2 to the Cubs this afternoon at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Cardinals defeated the Pirates 5-4 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis for their third straight victory. As a result, the Cardinals (74-63) are all alone in first place in the National League Central for the first time this season while the Brewers (73-64) have fallen out of first place for the first time since April 4.
The Cardinals were actually trailing 4-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning this afternoon, but Kolten Wong hit a game-tying two-run homer off Gerrit Cole before Jon Jay tripled and Matt Holliday drove him in with a single to put St. Louis in front. Carlos Martinez pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Trevor Rosenthal worked around a two-out error in the ninth to lock down his 41st save of the season.
While the Cardinals have a one-game advantage over the Brewers and now sit three games up on the Pirates, there’s still a long way to go here. The Cardinals and Brewers have seven games remaining against each other, including a four-game series later this week in Milwaukee and a three-game set from September 16-18 in St. Louis. In addition to two more games against the Cardinals, the Pirates will play a three-game series against the Brewers at home from September 19-21.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this:
Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.
It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.
Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.