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Cubs clinch NL Central with 5-1 win over Cardinals

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The Cubs clinched the NL Central on Wednesday evening, defeating the Cardinals 5-1 in St. Louis. It marks the club’s second consecutive division title and third consecutive playoff appearance.

The Cubs trailed the Cardinals 1-0 through six innings, but broke out in the seventh against starter Michael Wacha. Addison Russell belted a three-run home run and Jason Heyward hit an RBI double. After walking Rene Rivera, Wacha was lifted, but Tommy La Stella added an RBI double of his own to make it 5-1.

John Lackey pitched six effective innings for the Cubs, giving up just the one run on two hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Pedro Strop worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning. Hector Rondon, Brian Duensing, and Carl Edwards, Jr. combined to load the bases in the eighth inning, but managed to escape with no damage. Wade Davis sealed the deal in the ninth, working around a two-out double.

The Brewers fell behind 6-0 to the Reds after three innings, so the Cubs likely would’ve clinched anyway on Wednesday, but I’m sure they’re happy to have taken care of their own business and had the ability to celebrate on the field.

The Cubs will prepare for an NLDS matchup against the Nationals, as the Dodgers will play the winner of the Wild Card game.

Baseball to honor Stoneman Douglas High School as spring training games begin

New Era
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There were a few exhibitions against college teams yesterday but today the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules begin in earnest, with big league teams, more or less, facing big league team, more or less.

The baseball will look like baseball, but the teams will be wearing different caps today: black caps with the maroon “SD” of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on February 14.

All teams and umpire crews will wear the caps pre-game, and they have the option to wear the caps during the games. The only two teams not playing today — the Royals and Rangers — will wear them tomorrow.

After the games players will sign the caps and they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Broward Education Foundation, which benefits the official Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

Here’s today’s schedule: