The St. Louis Cardinals have been the class of the National League over the last decade and a half, and on Wednesday night beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-1 in the second game of a doubleheader at PNC Park to clinch the National League Central division for a third straight season.
Jason Heyward hit a grand slam in the third inning to give St. Louis a 6-0 lead that proved to be insurmountable. He ended his night with three hits, including a double, and scored two runs. Matt Carpenter reached base four times with a triple, a double and two walks, and scored three times.
Tyler Lyons allowed struck out five in his seven scoreless innings for the win, allowing only four hits.
The win by the Cardinals gave them 100 wins and assured they would finish with the best record in baseball. St. Louis will host the winner of the Pirates/Cubs NL Wild Card Game in the National League Division Series, a best-of-five tilt that will open on Friday, Oct. 9 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
To clinch the division, St. Louis won two of three games on the road in Pittsburgh against the Pirates (96-63), owners of the second-best record in baseball.
The Cardinals have won nine division titles in the last 16 seasons, dating back to 2000, with 12 playoff appearances during that plan. From 2000 to 2014, the Cardinals made the NLCS nine times and the World Series four times, winning two titles.
St. Louis has reached at least the NLCS in each of the last four seasons. Mike Matheny is the first manager in major league history to make the playoffs in each of his first four seasons at the helm.
The Cardinals (100-59) are the first 100-win team in MLB since the 2011 Phillies. This is the ninth 100-win season in Cardinals franchise history, and the first since 2005.