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Cardinals Clinch At Night, Dropping The Day Game But Making The Magic Number 0 After Sunset On 9/30

Cardinals clinch NL Central at night on 9/30/15, pummeling the Pirates 11-1. Jason Heyward hit a grand slam and nearly hit for the cycle while preventing runs on defense and Tyler Lyons struck out five and walked none in 7 innings of shutout baseball. Cardinals win 100th game while clinching first place in the NL Central!

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The only person who knows if the Cardinals would've won last night and clinched the division earlier would be someone from a parallel dimension (if those even exist). What we do know is that the Cardinals were not ready for the day game today, with Wacha continuing his bad stretch. He is still in September, and he has been at his worst this month. Wacha has basically admitted as much, stating that he needs to figure something out. Cards lost 8-2 during the day today, and the Pirates made up the game that was won by the Cardinals on Monday. But, the magic number remained at 2 heading into Wednesday's play, and all the Cardinals had to do was win tonight.

And win they did. Jon Jay has a superpower of getting on base through getting hit by pitches... especially pitches by Charlie Morton. He got on base twice that way tonight. The Cardinals doubles machine was in effect tonight, but Jason Heyward had loftier ideas, mainly paying back the Pirates for hitting a grand slam during the day. Francisco Cervelli had a grand slam, but Jason Heyward had a screaming liner to right center that basically put the nails in the Pirates watery coffin. If the regular season were the decider of the best team, the Jolly Roger was sunk on 9/30/15.

Heyward also flashed the glove tonight again a few times, when the Cardinals clinched the division title before their last series of the season even began. Meanwhile, Tyler Lyons challenged Pirates hitters and was able to get away with it with a stellar performance from the young lefty. But Heyward kind of overshadowed the performance, with a single, double, a grand slam, as well as elite run preventing defense.

If Matt Carpenter hadn't hit his 28th home run today, I might just think of Jason Heyward as my Cardinals MVP for 2015. They both had bad months this season (Heyward in the spring as a brand new Cardinal player, and Carpenter suffering fatigue in the early summer), the limitations of which make their accomplishments all the more impressive and makes one wonder what kind of monster seasons they would have had without those bad stretches.

One might point out that during the day, the Cardinals had to deal with Gerritt Cole, and that Michael Wacha was pitching, but I'm pretty glad they waited to later on to clinch, so I could write about it happily. To be honest, I had to miss nearly all of the day game, and had to start up the night game after 8pm due to a long workday. So I'll not say a bunch more about this, other than congratulations to the Cardinals organization and us fans for yet another first place NL Central finish with a minimum of 100 wins!

Bad Graph

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="">FanGraphs</a></span>

Good Graph

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="">FanGraphs</a></span>

Let's talk positive: Adam Wainwright is back, Matt Carpenter 28th home run, Jason Heyward 3-4 night game with a grand slam, 4 RBI and a walk, Matt Carpenter 2-3 with 2 walks had the highest WPA of the night for a hitter, and Tyler Lyons put his signature all over the 100th win going 7 innings, striking out 5, and walking not a single player for the highest WPA of any player tonight. Meanwhile, Charlie Morton was most definitely tagged with the loss.

P.S. Tony Cruz hit a home run, and is hitting quite well lately.

That's it for now, I'll talk more in the thread. The Cardinals get to coast in to Atlanta and work on R&D for the postseason while more importantly, get to miss Jake Arrieta and probably Gerritt Cole as well in the first game of their postseason schedule. But first, the Cardinals get to enjoy a day off tomorrow and celebrate tonight both win #100 and finished in first place in the best division in baseball.