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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.

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.