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Cardinals Can Clinch as Reds and Pirates Faceoff

The Cincinnati Reds coaching staff has been busy juggling its pitching rotation, as have other big league teams in preparation for the possibility of a one game play-in game next week.

On Wednesday, the three teams from the National League Central had to use a pitcher they would have ready to start the following Tuesday in case they were in the wildcard game to see which team moves on to play a division champion.

Cincinnati sent Mat Latos to the mound on Wednesday and he and his teammates lost 1-0. The Reds lost two of three to the New York Mets in the biggest week of the season.

The Reds thus were eliminated from the NL Central race when the St. Louis Cardinals, who are in first place, defeated the Washington Nationals later that same night.

The only team that can catch St. Louis is the Pittsburgh Pirates and that is becoming less and less likely as the Pirates lost on Wednesday to Chicago, lowering the magic number for the Cardinals to a single game to win the Central division.

With just three games left on the schedule for the Pirates and Cardinals, Pittsburgh trails St. Louis by three games.

The Pirates lead the Reds by a single game in the wildcard race, which is very important, as the team with the better record will host the one play-in game on Tuesday.

Francisco Liriano started on Wednesday for Pittsburgh, thus he is available for a playoff for the division title on Monday if needed against St. Louis, or a wildcard game Tuesday against Cincinnati.

On Thursday, all of the three playoff bound teams in the NL Central were idle. Cincinnati trails the Pirates by just a game, but if they win two of three, they could host the Tuesday wildcard game.

St. Louis, which has at the worst a tie for the division championship, ends their regular season with three games in the Windy City versus the Chicago Cubs.

St. Louis is definitely scrapping to not have to play the one game before the wildcard, while all of the division leaders in MLB attempt to increase their record to land home advantage.

Every leader in each of the six divisions has a chance in the last week of the season to own its league’s best 162-game record.

The Division Series in the National League is scheduled to start Thursday, October 3, with the AL series the next day.

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