The afternoon of September 25, 2013 was a good one in Cardinaldom. Developments abroad and domestically helped push el Birdos to the precipice of the National League Central Division championship. It is an accomplishment that would allow St. Louis is avoid Selig's cruel Wild Card play-in game.
The first domino to fall was in Cincinnati where the 26,233 fans who paid contributed to a new seasonal attendance record for the Reds at the Great American Ballpark of 2,371,103 on this, the Reds' fourth-to-last home game of the year. It's an impressive figure for the town of Cincinnati even if such a total would rank ninth on the all-time seasonal attendance totals of Busch Stadium III (which has been open for nearly eight seasons now). Those fans who used their ticket, which accounted for nearly 62% of the total on sale at the Great American Ballpark on Wednesday, watched their Redlegs lose 1-0 against Daisuke Matsusaka and the Mets.
In St. Louis, 40,597 paid for the opportunity to see the Cardinals complete their sweep of the Nats at Busch Stadium. The Cards did just that with a 4-2 victory behind rookie starter Shelby Miller. While pitching nowhere near as well as fellow rookie Michael Wacha did last night, Miller notched six innings and allowed just one run on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
The Cubs and Pirates wrapped up their series at Wrigley and the afternoon of meaningful baseball in the NL Central. (Don't forget that, tonight, the Brewers play the Braves, a matchup that will impact who has home-field advantage in the postseason.) The Pittsburgh-Chicago game was knotted at one in the sixth when Cubs outfielder Darnell McDonald ripped a three-run dinger to the left-center bleachers. The resultant three-run lead proved to be Gregg-proof. The Cubs closer allowed one run, but still managed to close out a 4-2 Cubbies' victory.
Today's turn-of-events have left the Cardinals' magic number fittingly the same as that warn by The Wizard: one. If the Cardinals win just one of their final three games against the Cubs, they are the 2013 NL Central champs. If the Pirates lose just one of their final three games against the Reds, the Cardinals win the division title.