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September 24, 2013

What You Need to Know

Monday in Playoff Implications

by Daniel Rathman


Defensive Play(s) of the Day
That’s right—we’re starting with the defensive play of the day, and it comes from the bottom of the ninth inning of the Pirates-Cubs game at Wrigley Field. With two away and Nate Schierholtz on first, representing the tying run, Ryan Sweeney singled to right field off of Jason Grilli. That should have put runners at the corners and brought Brian Bogusevic to the plate, but Marlon Byrd booted the ball.

Cubs third base coach David Bell saw the misplay in right-center field and decided to go all in on Schierholtz’s wheels versus Andrew McCutchen’s arm. That gamble, thanks to a fine throw from the center fielder and an outstanding relay by Justin Morneau, proved unwise.

The Monday Takeaway

Schierholtz was gunned down at the plate, and the Pirates emerged with a 2-1 victory. Moments later, the Reds, who began the day knotted with the Bucs atop the National League wild card standings, earned a walkoff victory over the Mets on a 10th-inning double by Shin-Soo Choo. Those wins shaved both Cincinnati’s and Pittsburgh’s magic numbers down to one.

All that separated the Reds and Pirates from a guaranteed playoff berth was a Cardinals win over the Nationals, who hung around as long as they could but were bound to eventually fall short. Not long after the second-place teams in the division drew a half-game closer to the first-place Cards, Mike Matheny’s club restored its two-game lead, eliminated the Nats, and ensured that three teams would represent the Central in October.

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