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Cardinals clinch NL Central with 100th victory

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Baseball’s best division has been decided.

Tyler Lyons threw seven scoreless innings and Jason Heyward slugged a fourth-inning grand slam as the Cardinals dominated the Pirates 11-1 in the second half of a doubleheader Wednesday night in Pittsburgh to clinch the 2015 National League Central title. It’s the third consecutive division championship for the Cardinals, who have advanced to the NLCS in each of the last four postseasons and carry designs on another late run this year.

Pittsburgh, with Wednesday’s loss, is now locked into a National League Wild Card Game matchup with the Cubs. And the Cardinals will take on the winner of that game in the best-of-five NLDS.

It’s a shame that only one of those terrific National League Central teams can advance past the Division Series. Here’s where their records rank currently in all of Major League Baseball …

  1. Cardinals: 100-59
  2. Pirates: 96-63
  3. Cubs: 93-65
  4. Blue Jays: 92-65
  5. Royals: 90-67
  6. Mets: 89-68

This is the first 100-win team in St. Louis since 2005.

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.