The Milwaukee Brewers made the Pittsburgh Pirates walk the plank by an 8-2 margin on Wednesday at Miller Park.
Meanwhile in Saint Louis on Thursday, the host Cardinals flew past the Cincinnati Reds for a 5-2 victory.
With their respective wins, both the Brew Crew and the Cards have now pulled within just two games in the loss column of the final NL Wildcard playoff berth.
That spot has been held for months by the Colorado Rockies, who were shut out by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. The Dbacks control the top NL Wildcard, with their Magic Number down to 8 in order to clinch an MLB postseason berth.
A two-run homer off the bat of Eric Thames in the bottom of the 3rd inning broke a 1-1 tie for Milwaukee. Brett Phillips added a two-run single later in the frame as the Brewers chased young Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow.
For the Cardinals, rookie Luke Weaver tossed a gem. He allowed just two hits and an unearned run over six innings, striking out six Cincy batters. Tommy Pham’s 20th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the 5th inning, broke open a tight contest.
The 24-year old Weaver was quoted by Jenifer Longasch for MLB.com on his key performance in the midst of a playoff race:
“I know it’s a big deal, but I try to downplay it in my mind and think of it was another game. It doesn’t change my mentality when I go out there. I want to stay aggressive and be strong and put up a great performance.”
Out in the Arizona desert, the high-powered Rockies lineup was kept in check by 27-year old Dbacks starter Zack Godley. The righty scattered five hits across eight strong innings, striking out seven without surrendering a walk.
Dbacks skipper Torey Lovullo was quoted by Jarrid Denney for MLB.com following the game:
“I know that there are a few teams that are right there; right on out heels. It’s not just the Rockies that we’re concerned about in the standings. But we placed all that aside at the right time of the day to go out and execute. We’re not paralyzed by what’s going on around us. I’m happy that these guys are eliminating the noise.”
The Rockies now will host the San Diego Padres this weekend at Coors Field. That series begins a stretch in which Colorado will play teams at least 10 games under the .500 mark (San Diego, San Francisco, Miami) in a dozen straight games.
The Brewers are in Miami this weekend, so the Marlins will have a real chance to play spoiler down the stretch. After that it will be three in Pittsburgh. The Brewers return home for a four-game long weekend set with the Chicago Cubs next Thursday.
The Cardinals play host to those arch-rival Cubs this weekend at Busch Stadium. It begins a nine-game road trip that will continue next week in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.