It wasn't the first time Major League Baseball needed to add an extra contest to its 162-game schedule to decide which team would be a division champ. But yesterday marked the first time two such games were necessary on the same day.
The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies all finished with identical records in the National League central and western divisions respectively, so the extra games were needed to determine which teams would take the division.
The Cubs-Brewers contest was first at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
The Brewers took a 1-0 lead into the fifth on an RBI single by Christian Yelich, and Jhoulyis Chacin retired 11 of the first 12 Cubs who stepped to the plate until Anthony Rizzo clubbed a home run to right in the fifth to tie the game at one, and it stayed that way until the 8th when the Brewers got to the Cubs bullpen with three straight hits including a Lorenzo Cain RBI that gave them the go-ahead run in an eventual 3-1 win. It's the first division title for Milwaukee since they moved to the National League in 2011.
And the payoff is huge as the Brew Crew goes back to Milwaukee to rest while the Cubs get right back at it today with a win-or-you're out wild card game, but they at least don't have to travel to play it.
No such luxury for the Colorado Rockies, who had to board a plane from Los Angeles to the Windy City right after their 5-2 loss to the Dodgers last night.
L.A. got a masterful one-hit performance from rookie Walker Buehler, who may or may not be nicknamed Ferris in the clubhouse, since a lot of those players might be too young to know that movie, but I digress. Buehler took a no-hitter into the sixth before Charlie Blackmon broke it up, and the Rockies couldn't get on the board until hitting back to back solo home runs against Dodger closer Kenley Jansen in the 9th, which was too little too late.
So the Dodgers win the N.L. west for a record sixth time in a row. Only the NY Yankees in the American League have won more consecutive division titles. Cody Belinger and Max Muncy connected on two-run homers to power the Dodger offense, and L.A. will host the Atlanta Braves in the best of five divisional series.
With a little help from an inattentive ref, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Denver Broncos 27-23 at Mile High Stadium last night.
Take nothing away from Chiefs quarterback Pat Mahomes, who's an early favorite for MVP honors after leading KC to two late touchdown drives in a span of twelve minutes in the fourth quarter, erasing a 20-13 deficit and winning the game on a four yard Kareem Hunt rush into the end zone with less than two minutes to go.
But on the winning drive the Chiefs faced a third and seven from the Bronco's 46 yard line and completed a 35-yard gain on a pass from Mahomes to Demetrius Harris to keep the drive going. Only problem was the play clock had ticked down to zero before the ball was snapped and the refs simply missed it, admitting so after the game. The Chiefs should have been flagged for delay of game and should have faced a fourth and twelve instead of having the chains moved.
But bad calls are nothing new to the NFL, part and parcel with the league's decisions on everything from domestic violence to the health of its own players to fumbled responses the exercising of first amendment rights, so missing a critical call at a pivotal moment in a regular season game kind of pales in comparison.
But give Mahomes credit for orchestrating a great comeback win. He even completed a left-handed pass during the winning drive, a tough thing to do when you're right handed. The Chiefs remain undefeated at 4-0 on the year, while the Broncos fall to 2-2.