October baseball has come early this year. Through 161 games of the 162-game schedule, we have determined nothing in the National League Central division. After a 2-1 loss on Saturday to the Cardinals, who have been eliminated from postseason contention, the Cubs left the door wide open for the Brewers to jump back into a first-place tie for the first time since July 31.
Trailing 3-0 early, Christian Yelich did that thing again where he’s the most valuable player in the National League. The 26-year-old hammered his 35th homer of the year to get the Brew Crew within a run. Milwaukee would later tie the game on an RBI double by Jonathan Schoop, and then take their first lead later in the inning on a two-run base hit by Erik Kratz. Detroit didn’t let the lead last for long, though. Nick Castellanos launched his 23rd homer of the season to make it a one-run game before the Tigers tied it on a sac fly in the sixth.
That set the stage for that Yelich guy again. With an 0-1 count, Yelich crushed a slider into the second deck to give Milwaukee a 6-5 lead that they would not give up thanks to excellent relief appearances by Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress, who both struck out the side. After yet another outstanding day at the plate for Yelich, he now leads the league in batting average (.324), tied in home runs (36), and he’s two RBI shy of Javy Baez to complete the triple crown. Kind of a big deal.
With the win, the Cubs’ six-game lead that they had coming into play exactly one month ago today on August 29 is now gone. If the Brewers, who have not announced a starter for Sunday yet, finish with the same record as the Cubs, who have Mike Montgomery going for them in the season finale, then the two teams would play a Game 163 on Monday in Chicago to determine the NL Central champion and who’s playing in the Wild Card game.
The Rockies and Dodgers will also enter the final game of the season on Sunday with identical records. So, we could end up seeing TWO one-game playoffs on Monday to determine who’s playing in THE one-game playoff, and also who the NL Central and NL West division champions are. Baseball fans far and wide will be rooting for all chaotic scenarios possible to come to fruition.