New York's loss and wins by St. Louis and San Francisco pull 3 clubs together
By Chad Thornburg
Tuesday's Major League action saw the National League Wild Card race evened into a three-way tie between the Giants, Mets and Cardinals.
The trio has been trading places in the NL standings all month, with each club logging time in possession of a spot in the NL's one-game playoff. But when the dust settled after Tuesday's results, all three ended the day with an 80-71 record.
The Cardinals enjoyed the biggest victory, defeating the Rockies at Coors Field behind a career night at the plate for starter Adam Wainwright. The right-hander collected four RBIs as St. Louis won 10-5.
"I've been saving my RBIs up for this year," Wainwright said. "I'm doing whatever it takes to help this team win."
The Giants also emerged with a win Tuesday, beating the rival Dodgers, 2-0, in Los Angeles to stay alive in the NL West. It wasn't all good news for San Francisco, however, as two key contributors exited early with injuries.
Brandon Crawford left in the second inning with a dislocated left pinkie, while right-hander Johnny Cueto's outing came to an end in the sixth due to a left groin strain.
The Mets had a late rally fall short as they lost, 5-4, to the Braves at Citi Field. Atlanta, which owns the worst record in the NL, has caused trouble for the Mets all year, evening the season series at nine games apiece.
"I know the Braves, where they sit in the league -- they had a terrible, terrible first half," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "They've got a pretty nice lineup right now. ... They're scoring runs. We knew we were going to be in a dogfight."
If this race remains deadlocked at the end of the regular season, the three teams will choose or receive A, B and C designations, which are determined by head-to-head records. The Cardinals and Mets both have the edge over the Giants, but they split their season series. So in that case, the edge goes to the club with the better intradivision record, which would be the Cardinals as of Tuesday evening.
Team A would host Team B on Oct. 3; the winner of that game claims the top Wild Card spot, while the loser goes on to visit Team C on Oct. 4. The winner of that second game will assume the second Wild Card spot.
The most likely scenario in the event of a three-way tie is the Cardinals and Mets playing to determine the first Wild Card spot in St. Louis on Oct. 3, and the loser will travel to San Francisco for a game on Oct. 4. The winner of the Oct. 3 game would then host the winner of the Oct. 4 game on Oct. 5 in the NL Wild Card Game.
The Mets have seemingly the clearest road ahead without any current playoff teams on the schedule. After Wednesday's finale against the Braves at Citi Field, New York has seven games against the Phillies -- four at home, three in Philadelphia -- and three games at Miami.
The Cardinals wrap a three-game series against the Rockies in Colorado on Wednesday, then visit the NL's top team, the Cubs, for three games at Wrigley Field before returning home for a seven-game homestand against the Reds and Pirates.
The Giants, meanwhile, have to face the first-place Dodgers four more times. They also visit the Padres for four games and take on the Rockies at home.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.