A look at where the Cubs stand in the playoff race with 21 games to go originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
While the Chicago Cubs took a tough 6-2 loss in the series opener Thursday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the North Siders remain in the driver’s seat and well in control of their own destiny with two-thirds of the final month left in the season.
On a Thursday when action around the league was minimal, there was just one other game on the docket that impacted the National League playoff picture, that being the final game of a three-game set between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Miami Marlins.
Both the Cubs and Diamondbacks were aided by the Dodgers’ 10-0 win over the Marlins, which minimized the hit of the Cubs’ loss while putting Arizona into the third Wild Card spot, with a half-game lead over both the Marlins and the Cincinnati Reds.
The San Francisco Giants are now 2.5 games back from the Diamondbacks for the final spot.
As for the Cubs, they remain in the second Wild Card spot with a three-game cushion over the Diamondbacks, though that lead can be erased in the event of an Arizona sweep this weekend.
On the other end, the North Siders trail the Philadelphia Phillies by two games for the top Wild Card spot, though the Cubs do not hold a tiebreaker after going just 1-5 against the defending NL champions this season.
As for the division, the Cubs remain well within striking distance, trailing the Milwaukee Brewers by two games.
With three games left against the Brewers at the end of the season, the Cubs will just need to be in striking distance at the time of the final series to still have a chance.
Here’s a look at who each NL Central and Wild Card contender is playing this weekend:
Cubs: vs. Diamondbacks
Diamondbacks: @ Cubs
Brewers: @ Yankees
Reds: vs. Cardinals
Marlins: @ Phillies
Phillies: vs. Marlins
Giants: vs. Rockies
The Cubs will look to even up the series against the D-Backs at 1:20 p.m. local time at Wrigley Field.