Cardinals win 100th game, clinch third straight NL Central title

For the third straight season, the St. Louis Cardinals are champions of the NL Central. The team clinched their third straight division title with Wednesday night's win over the Pirates (STL 11, PIT 1).

Wednesday's win improved the Cardinals to 100-59 with three games remaining. They're the first team to win 100 games since the 2011 Phillies. St. Louis last won 100 games back in 2005, when they went 100-62. The close the season with three games against the Braves.

The Cardinals clinched a postseason berth a few days ago but now have the NL Central locked up, meaning they've avoided the dreaded winner-take-all wild-card game. The Pirates and Cubs will now for certain play the wild-card game -- both have clinched a playoff spot -- with the winner facing the Cardinals in the NLDS.

Although they have the division wrapped up, the Cardinals are facing some adversity in the form of late season injuries. Carlos Martinez, a candidate to start Game 1 of the NLDS, has been shut down for the season with a right shoulder strain. He won't pitch again this year, not even in October.

The Cardinals have also lost catcher Yadier Molina to a thumb injury. He will not play again during the regular season and, for the time being, he is questionable for the postseason. Molina will continue to be evaluated to determine his availability for the NLDS. He's a huge loss, needless to say.

With the division clinched and three games still on the schedule, the Cardinals only have to focus on getting healthy and lining up their rotation for the NLDS. Their ticket for October has been punched. Now they just have to make it through the end of the regular season in one piece.

Jason Heyward and the Cardinals are the NL Central champs.
Jason Heyward and the Cardinals are the NL Central champs. (USATSI)
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