Cubs Are NL Central Champions

(CBS) The Cubs have completed the first step toward breaking a championship drought dating back to 1908.

While it didn’t occur in the way they preferred, the Cubs clinched the NL Central crown Thursday night. A couple hours after Chicago lost 5-4 to Milwaukee at Wrigley Field, division rival St. Louis fell 6-2 at San Francisco. That sealed the sixth division title in franchise history for the Cubs (93-53) and ensured that they’ll open the postseason on Oct. 7 in Game 1 of the NLDS.

The Cubs will celebrate their division title after the conclusion of Friday afternoon’s game against the Brewers, manager Joe Maddon said.

“This is just the first step,” Maddon said. “We have much larger baseball fish to fry in our skillet.”

It’s a near certainly that playoff opener will come at Wrigley Field, as the Cubs lead the Nationals by six games for the best record in the NL with 16 games left. Chicago has a magic number of 10 to earn home-field advantage through the NLCS. If so, the Cubs will face the NL wild-card game winner. The Giants, Mets and Cardinals are locked in a tight battle for the two wild-card spots right now.

Chicago wouldn’t hold home-field advantage in the World Series, by virtue of the AL defeating the NL in the All-Star Game.

The Cubs also won division titles in 1984, 1989, 2003, 2007 and 2008. They advanced to the NLCS last season as a wild-card entrant before being swept by the New York Mets in four games.

The Cubs haven’t advanced to the World Series since 1945, when they lost in seven games to the Tigers.

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