The Cincinnati Reds pulled within a half-game of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the top wildcard spot Wednesday night, and the teams will likely play seven of the next 12 days with only the last game mattering. That will only change if the St. Louis Cardinals fall behind one of them, or the Nationals catch one of them. The following are the side-by-side schedules of all four teams through Game 1 of the NLDS:
|Wed, Sep 18||Colorado W4-3, +2.5||Houston W6-5, —||San Diego L3-2, +0.5||Atlanta L5-2, -5.5|
|Thu, Sep 19||Colorado||off||San Diego||Miami|
|Fri, Sep 20||Milwaukee||Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||Miami|
|Sat, Sep 21||Milwaukee||Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||Miami|
|Sun, Sep 22||Milwaukee||Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||Miami|
|Mon, Sep 23||Washington||NY Mets||Cubs||St. Louis|
|Tue, Sep 24||Washington||NY Mets||Cubs||St. Louis|
|Wed, Sep 25||Washington||NY Mets||Cubs||St. Louis|
|Thur, Sep 26||off||off||off||off|
|Fri, Sep 27||Cubs||Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||Arizona|
|Sat, Sep 28||Cubs||Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||Arizona|
|Sun, Sep 29||Cubs||Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||Arizona|
|Tue, Oct 1||Wildcard||Wildcard||Wildcard||Wildcard|
|Thur, Oct 3||Game 1 NLDS||Game 1 NLDS||Game 1 NLDS||Game 1 NLDS|
Billy Hamilton made his first Major League start for the Reds as the No. 9 hitter, and stole four more bases to improve to 9 of 9 on the base paths despite only five at bats. It took the Reds 13 innings to pull of a 6-5 win over the Astros, who had already lost 100 games, to catch the Pirates. Hamilton easily stole a base despite a straight pitchout in the fourth and just kept stealing until he was the first player since 1920 to steal four bases in his first start.
The Pirates will need to win Thursday to stay ahead of the idle Reds after their fans were stunned to watch the Padres make it three straight. Pirates closer Mark Melancon entered the game with a 2-1 lead and a 1.15 ERA, but gave up four hits to lose the game 3-2. If the Nationals went 9-1 and the Cardinals went 1-9 the rest of the season then the two teams would play a one-game playoff on Monday, September 30 to determine which made the wild card – but more likely the Cardinals will be NL Central Champions and the Nationals will be at home watching the playoffs.
The Nationals must sweep a four game series against the Mets and hope either the Reds or Pirates sweep the other to have a shot by the time they take on the Cardinals Monday. The Nationals were hot until the Braves beat them Wednesday, but need to make up 5 1/2 games against the Reds or 6 games against the Pirates to sneak into the wildcard game October 1.
The Cardinals will be trying to wrap up the NL Central by then, but if they drop a few games the could risk dropping out of the Division Lead and having to play in the Wild Card game.