Notes: Tiebreaker rules confirmed

Notes: Tiebreaker rules confirmed

ST. LOUIS -- If you thought the Division Series possibilities for the Cardinals were bewildering, wait until you see the scenarios for a playoff for the National League Central championship.

Major League Baseball has already announced the potential setups for a one-game playoff between two tied teams for the NL Central title. MLB officials confirmed on Wednesday, however, how it would all shake down if St. Louis, Cincinnati and Houston all stood tied with each other through 162 games.

The bracket does not favor the Cardinals.

For such a scenario to take place, the Redbirds would already have to play a makeup game against the Giants on Monday. If, after that game, the three contending clubs were tied, they would play two games over two days to determine the division champion. Two clubs would play on Tuesday, and the winner would play the third team on Wednesday.

By virtue of having the best record (19-11) in head-to-head play, Cincinnati would get to choose one of two options -- either the Reds could have the right to play at home on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday, or they could sit out the first game but play the second game on the road. Houston, with the second-best head-to-head record, would choose second, leaving the Cardinals with the last choice.

That is, it's almost certain that in the case of a one-game playoff, the Cardinals would have to win twice, and they would have to open on the road in the first game. So St. Louis could play at home on Monday, in Cincinnati or Houston on Tuesday, at home again on Wednesday and then on the road in Game 1 of the Division Series on Thursday.

A one-game playoff between two teams would be held on Tuesday. Based on the results of coin flips, the Cardinals would host the Reds but would have to visit Houston in the event of a two-team tie.

Players Choice nominees: Three Cardinals have been named finalists for Players Choice awards, headed up by Albert Pujols. The first baseman is a finalist for the two most prestigious awards handed out by the MLB Players Association -- Player of the Year and the Marvin Miller Man of the Year.

Ryan Howard and David Ortiz join Pujols as the finalists for Player of the Year, an honor Pujols won in 2003. Jim Thome and John Smoltz join Pujols as nominees for the Miller Award, for which Pujols has previously been a finalist but never a winner.

Additionally, Chris Carpenter is one of three nominees for NL Outstanding Pitcher, along with Brandon Webb and Carlos Zambrano. Scott Rolen was nominated for Comeback Player of the Year, as were Joe Borowski and Nomar Garciaparra.

Encarnacion sits: Scott Spiezio got the call in left field on Wednesday night against Padres right-hander Chris Young, with Chris Duncan moving to right and Juan Encarnacion on the bench. That's despite the fact that Young has actually fared quite a bit better against left-handed hitters than righties on the year.

"I always like playing Spiezio," said manager Tony La Russa. "I like to play him enough that he competes. Juan could use a day off."

Bits and pieces: David Eckstein was formally presented with his "Heart and Hustle" award on the field before Wednesday's game. ... La Russa posted the lineup card on the wall sideways on Wednesday, in an attempt to shake up the team's luck. ... The Cards had their team photo on the field on Wednesday afternoon. ... Remember that Saturday's game at Busch Stadium has been moved up to a 12:25 p.m. CT start.

This date in Cardinals history: On Sept. 27, 1962, a 41-year-old Stan Musial smacked five base hits in a 7-4 Cardinals win over the Giants at Candlestick Park. Remarkably, it was the only five-hit game of Musial's magnificent career.

Coming up: Beginning on Thursday, the Brewers will come to town for the final series of the regular season. The series opener will feature Milwaukee left-hander Doug Davis (10-11, 5.02 ERA) going against Jason Marquis (14-15, 5.80 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.