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The Equinox

Astronomical fall began at 5:47 am CT today.

As it does, the Cubs and Astros are tied for first place in the NL Central thanks to the Giants, who beat Houston 6-3 last night.

Six games to go for each team, and I think we can throw out the "easy" or "hard" schedules at this point. The Astros have one advantage that no one has talked about -- the domed stadium. They won't have to sit through any rain delays this week, or have the possibility of a postponed game. According to the advance forecasts, the Cubs should be OK in Cincinnati through Thursday; there is a slight chance of rain here in Chicago this weekend, but you know they'll try to play as scheduled unless there's a monsoon.

One more thought about schedules -- there have been criticisms by various teams about "differing" schedules due to the way the interleague matchups are now scheduled. Between the Cubs and Astros, the Cubs are the ones with the complaint, if there was one to be made.

The two clubs both played the Yankees, Devil Rays and Orioles. Houston played Boston while the Cubs played Toronto.

But the Astros played two series against the Rangers while the Cubs played two series against the White Sox.

Which one would you say had the tougher time?

Six months ago, I think you'd all agree that if we'd been told we'd be in this spot -- tied for first with six games left -- that we'd have absolutely taken that deal, and now we have it. I think the Cubs' pitching rotation is well set up for the remaining games, and suddenly Houston's vaunted bullpen looks vulnerable, having worked hard in St. Louis, and Billy Wagner, nearly untouchable all year, gave up back-to-back homers in the ninth last night.

Hold your breath and your hope in your hands, everyone.