Photo: Benny Sieu, US PRESSWIRE
In taking two of three games versus the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend, the Milwaukee Brewers showed the kind of damage they could do to foes over the next month in terms of spoiling other teams’ chances at the playoffs. Nearly a month ago, I waxed on the possibility of the Brewers making things hard on postseason contenders. Ever since then, the Brewers have gone 1-3 against St. Louis, 3-0 against Cincinnati and 2-1 against Pittsburgh. That’s not too terribly bad (except their usual suffering at the hands of the Cardinals).
The Crew still has six games against the Pirates and three each against the Reds and Cards. There are also four against the Nats and three with the Braves. The once smooth-sailing Pirates have hit some choppy waters, and are now two games behind the Cardinals in the Wild Card chase. Entering play Monday, the Pirates are also a whopping eight games behind the division-leading Reds, with the Redbirds six back. It’s (not) hard to fathom the disappointment that will be felt in Pittsburgh if the Pirates crumble again, albeit later into the season than last year.
The Cards start a big-time series against Pittsburgh tonight, but then don’t play the Pirates again for the rest of the season. The Reds have six more against Pittsburgh and then a regular-season-ending series against St. Louis. What does all of this mean? Who knows….well I’m sure none of these teams or their fans want to end up taking a loss to a Jekyll-and-Hyde Milwaukee team right now. They may not even want to face Milwaukee due to the distinct possibility that the good Brewers team will show up that day. For all their flaws the Brewers can still swing the bats. There have been many Brewers teams in the past five years that have had a lot of potential, but this one does have a lot of mature talent and they can whip teams when they put it together, as Sunday’s 7-0 stomping of the Pirates proved.
One bright light heading into the dark winter months could be beating some Central foes, causing trouble in the standings. As bleak and without ample reward as this quest may be, I would like to see the Brewers power through as best they can over the next month, finish the season strong. When you’re put out to pasture as early on in the season as the Brewers were in 2012, the remaining games take on a totally different luster. One can hope the team can try out players for next year and have those players gain valuable experience along the way. But overall, I hope the team can learn something from their 2012 woes and finish the season looking less like a train wreck and more like a team that has an idea of what it could be next year. In an age of trades involving a quarter of a billion dollars, hope is more important than ever.