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State of the NL Central: July 23

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It was no fluke, the Cubs remain on top!

St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

With last week’s All-Star break taking up several days usually intended for play, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for teams to change their fortunes. Yet we were able to see the Cubs hang on tight to their firs- place spot, and a bit if a shuffle in the ranks in third and fourth position.

Let’s see what the NL Central did with their abbreviated week of play.

Chicago Cubs 58-40

You know what helps a team hang on to first place? Winning three out of five games in a home series against the Cardinals. With the exception of Friday’s 18-5 loss, all the series games were closely matched, but the Cubs were able to take the win overall and keep their hold on the number one spit.

Leading into the new week they face off against the Arizona Diamondbacks for four games, and with the D-Backs only 1½ games back in the NL West, you can bet they’ll be tough competitors. Over the weekend they’ll see the Cardinals again, this time in St. Louis, and Cubs fans can hope for a repeat performance.

Up Next: vs Diamondbacks (4 games); @ Cardinals (3 games)

Milwaukee Brewers 56-45

If the Brewers wanted to be back in first place they didn’t do a great job of showing it this weekend. They lost two of three games against the now first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, keeping them firmly ensconced in second, and now 3½ games back.

For their first full week back after the break they’ll take on the Washington Nationals for a three-game series, then head to the West Coast for a four-game set against the San Francisco Giants (with a Dodgers rematch looming next week). It’s not going to be an easy week for the Brewers.

Up Next: vs Nationals (3 games); @ Giants (4 games)

Pittsburgh Pirates 51-49

Have yourself a week, Pirates. After their five-game sweep of the Brewers prior to the All-Star break, the Pirates continued their domination this weekend with a three-game sweep of the Reds. The Cincinnati club was barely able to put a dent in the Pirates defense, with ugly imbalanced scores across the board (12-1, 6-2, 9-2).

This week the Pirates hope to continue dominating, but things will get a bit tougher (at first anyway). They’ll see the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians for three games, then follow that up with a bit of a breather against the New York Mets for four games. Hopefully the Mets will not have contracted typhoid in that window and will have enough players to take the field.

Up Next: @ Indians (3 games); vs Mets (4 games)

St. Louis Cardinals 50-49

Down, down, down slide the Cardinals after a rough five-game outing against the Cubs over the weekend. They were able to manage two wins in the series, but it wasn’t enough to keep the red-hot Pirates from surging ahead of them in the standings. They’re currently only half a game back of the Pirates, though, so expect a tight race in the middle of the division this week.

The Cardinals will face only division rivals this coming week, starting with three games against the Reds, and concluding with another three-game set against the Cubs. It’s hard to say how these matches will shake out.

Up Next: @ Reds (3 games); vs Cubs (3 games)

Cincinnati Reds 43-56

We touched on the Reds bad luck just above, but needless to say a three-game sweep at the hands of the Pirates wasn’t what they needed as they attempted their climb out of last place.

They’ll have to hope the Cardinals luck continues to be bad as they kick off the week with a three game series at home against the St. Louis club. Then this weekend they’ll see the Phillies for four games, a series which is certain to be a tough one for them.

Up Next: vs Cardinals (3 games); vs Phillies (4 games)