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Cub Tracks zeroes in

The magic number is still two, and other bullets

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St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
Javy’s cool. Are you?
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

So it comes down to the last game. If the Cubs are worthy, they defeat the Cardinals (who are already out of the playoffs), and emerge victorious, with the best record in the league. If not, they still get into the post-season tournament, but they’ll have to skulk instead of ride. Bruce Levine aptly lays out the possibilities in his article. Many others have thoughts as well. The Dodgers knocked St. Louis out of the playoffs — how will that play today? Is being potential spoilers enough motivation? Are the Cubs motivated enough to beat them?

RIP Marty.

What’s certain is that the Cubs and Brewers are both headed to the playoffs. If they finish with the same regular-season record, they would play a tiebreaker on Monday at Wrigley Field to determine the division winner. The loser of that game would host the Wild Card Game on Tuesday. — Carrie Muskat.

This is excitement personified.

As always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

Cole Hamels, who also repeatedly praised Miles Mikolas’ performance today in the Cardinals 2-1 win over the Cubs: “I think you have to admire his mustache more than anything. He’s definitely got me beat.” — Marly Rivera.

  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): It’s baseball: A 162-game season comes down to one day for the Cubs. “The bounces didn’t go the Cubs’ way Saturday, but they’re hoping it evens out over the next 24 hours.”
  • NBC Sports Chicago*: ‘This is what we’re made for’: Cubs embrace adversity [VIDEO].
  • Jennifer Langosch (*): Cards top Cubs, remain in postseason mix. “The Cubs, whose quest for a third straight division title remains threatened by the Brewers, helped liven the Cardinals’ offense with free baserunners.”
  • Jared Wyllys (NBC Sports Chicago*): “This is what we’re made for”: How Cubs are handling uncertainty of the season’s final days. “There’s pressure in this game, and at some level you have to really enjoy it,” Ben Zobrist said.
  • Chicago Tribune {$}: Joe Maddon on the Cubs’ loss to the Cardinals [VIDEO].
  • David Just (Chicago Sun-Times* {$}): ‘Weirdest thing in baseball’? Cubs brace for wild finish to division race. “The crazy thing is I heard that two teams could celebrate tomorrow [at Wrigley],” Cubs starter Cole Hamels (4-3) said. “That’d be the weirdest thing in baseball.”
  • Bob Nightengale (USA Today): Cubs enjoying pressure from Brewers in battle for NL Central title. “There are a lot of scenarios that can happen (Sunday), so that’s we have to focus on,’’ Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber said.
  • David Haugh (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Suspense surrounding Game No. 162 perfect symmetry for the most imperfect of seasons. “Like any other day,” Maddon said of Game No. 162.
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Cubs’ loss to Cards leaves door open for Crew. “It will all come down to Game 162.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times* {$}): Jon Lester on all the Cubs’ uncertainty into final day: ‘Just deal with it’. “If that’s the hand we’re dealt, that’s the hand we’re dealt,” Lester said.
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): When the pressure’s on, Kyle Hendricks delivers: ‘This is what you live for.’ “Usually I get strong as the year goes on,” Hendricks said.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Why Cole Hamels believes the Cubs are prepared for chaos. “Tomorrow’s going to be pretty exciting,” he said.
  • Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago*): Who’s the Cubs’ playoff closer? Even when Pedro Strop returns, Joe Maddon’s not naming one. “I really like what we’re doing right now, having all these different options late. So I definitely would not just say, ‘He’s the closer,’” Maddon said.
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): How Maddon has utilized bullpen since Strop’s injury. “...Maddon’s utilized nearly half his bullpen in similar high-leverage situations.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Strop aiming to be ready for postseason.“The fact that he has not been disabled with his arm matters a lot,” said Maddon.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): This isn’t the season Kris Bryant and the Cubs wanted, but they’re still right where they need to be. “...Bryant has never played a meaningless game in a Cubs uniform...”

Food for thought: