Welcome to Cubs Playoff Watch, your daily look at the Chicago Cubs as they continue to push toward their second consecutive division title.
Cubs’ Magic Number: 8
The Cubs were unable to help their own cause on Wednesday night, as they fell in a blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Fortunately for them, the Brewers also lost, as the Pirates scored a comeback 5-4 walk-off victory in the teams’ series finale at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
With the dual losses, the Cubs maintained their three and a half game lead over the Brewers in the Central Division. The Cardinals beat the Reds on Wednesday night, moving them back within five games of the Cubs in the divisional race.
National League Playoff Picture:
The Los Angeles Dodgers saw their lead in the best record race drop to three and a half games over the Nationals, but as of now it still seems that Washington would be on a collision course to play the Central Division winner in the first round.
The Cubs are close to losing home-field advantage in that series, as the Nationals’ magic number to clinch home-field in the first round of the postseason sits at 4 entering Thursday’s action.
Chicago Cubs' 2017 Push for the Playoffs
Meanwhile, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a five and a half game lead over the Colorado Rockies in the wild card race, putting them within reach of clinching home-field advantage in the National League wild card game.
The Rockies have a one-game lead over the Brewers for the second wild card spot in the National League, and are ahead of the Cardinals by two and a half games with just 10 games to go in the regular season.
For the Cubs, a four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers is on tap for Thursday, as Jake Arrieta takes the mound for the first time since straining his hamstring against the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this season.
The series will be a critical one, as the Cubs still hold a three and a half game lead over the Brewers in the Central Division. Winning two or three games will all but lock up the division title for the Cubs, who still have series against the Cardinals and Reds left on their schedule.