SATURDAY: It's going to come down to the final day of the season, at best. The Pirates and the Cards both lost on Saturday. The Pirates lost a slugfest in the 10th inning, so the Cards went into their game later knowing that all they had to do was beat the weak Diamondbacks and they would take the division. As it is, with the Pirates loss, the Cards clinched at least a tie. If the Cards win Sunday or the Pirates lose, the Cards win the division. If the Pirates win and the Cards lose, they play the tie-breaker on Monday. The Cards are sending their ace out on Sunday.
The tie-breaker is not a win or go home. The winner of the game wins the division and move on to play a series. The loser plays the Giants in the Wild Card game, which IS win or go home.
The Giants as surmised played their rookies on Saturday, and they won, with all the rookies looking good. Sunday they will send out a rookie starting pitcher. Neither game means anything to the Giants. They know they will be playing away on Wednesday, though they still don't know whether it will be Pittsburgh or St. Louis.
FRIDAY: Arizona came within a base hit in the bottom of the ninth of putting the Pirates into a tie for first. They came back from a 6-3 deficit to tie the Cards in the 8th, and had two men on in the 9th but couldn't bring in that winning run. The Cards scored in the top of the 10th, Arizona couldn't answer, so the Cards got a one run victory.
The pressure was on them because earlier in the day the Pirates beat the Reds 3-1 in Cincinnati. Also, the Giants lost at home to San Diego, so they now know they will not play the Wild Card game at home. So in a way they are in the best position--they can rest whatever players they choose because the final 2 games are meaningless. Meanwhile, the Pirates and Cards have to keep contending for that very important top spot. It is still possible they will tie for first, which is the chanciest outcome for both teams as their top pitchers will likely be unavailable.
Still, the Pirates now know that if they wind up playing the Giants in the Wild Card, the game will be in Pittsburgh.
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