Chicago Cubs: Magic number down to two with two games to play

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

After both the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers handled their business on Friday, the former’s magic number fell to two with two games left to play.

Knowing full well they control their own destiny, the Chicago Cubs headed into Friday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals ready to roll. They jumped on St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright early and added insurance late in an 8-4 victory.

Chicago (94-66) dropped their magic number to clinch the National League Central title to two with the win – but it would fall no further. Milwaukee rode a big game from Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun to take down the Detroit Tigers at Miller Park, keeping the Cubs’ division lead at just one game entering Saturday.

Soft-tossing righty Kyle Hendricks stepped up and answered the call, pitching eight innings of two-run ball, striking out just two but inducing a great deal of weak contact. He and teammate Jon Lester have been absolutely masterful the last two days – a trend Cole Hamels will look to continue on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

This marks Hamels’ first taste of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, as he makes his first start against St. Louis as a member of his new team. He’ll have his work cut out for him as the Cardinals counter with Miles Mikolas, who’s eyeing his 18th win of the season on Saturday.

Javier Baez, Ian Happ and Anthony Rizzo have all had success against Mikolas in small sample sizes, but at this point in the season, it usually comes down to the little things – or, at least, we pay more attention to those details with the Cubs’ backs against the wall.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee doesn’t play until Saturday evening. By the time they take the diamond, they’ll know the outcome of the Cubs’ game and what they need to do to either keep pace or catch their division rival heading into the final day of the season.

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What’s Next

Chicago and St. Louis continue the final series of the regular season this afternoon at Wrigley Field. Cole Hamels squares off against Mile Mikolas with a chance to drop the Cubs’ magic number down to one.