It took a little bit longer than expected, but the Milwaukee Brewers finally saw the magic number to win the NL Central drop all the way to zero.
Needing just a win over the Cardinals to clinch the division title on Tuesday night, the Brewers weren't able to help themselves out as they dropped the opening game of their home series against St. Louis. Luckily, the a Cubs loss also locked the division up for Milwaukee and the Northsiders ended up obliging, making the Brewers NL Central champions for the 2023 season.
The Brewers went into last weekend having clinched a spot in the 2023 postseason but needing just a win by themselves or a loss by the Cubs to take the NL Central division title. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for Chicago, the Crew went winless over the weekend while the Cubs won both games.
So the Brewers returned to Milwaukee to face the last place Cardinals, with a chance to win the division in front of the home fans. Apparently, the Red Birds had other plans.
The Brewers jumped out to an early lead when trade deadline pickup Carlos Santana drove in Christian Yelich in the bottom of the third for the game's first run. The Cardinals answered back quickly, though, scoring two in the next inning to take the lead for themselves. They added two more in the fifth to increase the lead to 4-1, a score that would end up standing until the end of the game.
While the Brewers lost, the Cubs blew a big lead late, allowing Milwaukee to clinch the 2023 NL Central division title.
The Brewers winning the NL Central had seemed like a foregone conclusion for a while now, yet the Cubs had been doing a good job delaying the inevitable. That was until Tuesday night happened.
On the road against the powerhouse Braves, Chicago looked like they might run away with a victory. On the back of four RBI-singles and a two-run triple, the Cubs had staked themselves to a 6-0 lead through five and a half innings.
Then the Braves comeback began. Run-scoring hits by Matt Olson and Marcell Ozuna in the bottom of the sixth made it 6-3. A Ronald Acuna Jr two-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh then cut the deficit to just a run at 6-5.
Atlanta had another threat going in the bottom of the eighth before it appeared that Cubs pitcher Drew Smyly got out of it by inducing a fly ball to right. Amazingly, however, right fielder Seiya Suzuki, who had just two errors on the season coming into the game, completely whiffed on the easy catch, allowing two runs to score and giving the Braves a 7-6 lead. Atlanta breezed through the ninth to seal the victory.
And with that, there is no more scoreboard watching to do and no magic number to count down. The Milwaukee Brewers are your 2023 NL Central division champions!