Monday, Aug. 22, 2011

Are the Brewers peaking too early?

By Nicole
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Having won 22 of their last 26 (yes, they've had just four losses in the month of August), the Brewers are undeniably the hottest team in baseball.

It seems unlikely the team can keep up this torrid pace, though we did say that when they started this streak with an 8-1 homestand. Of course, in the three weeks since, they have kept it up.

But should fans worry that this crazy stretch comes in August and not in September, heading in to the playoffs? Is a crash after this incredible stretch inevitable? Was tonight's Greinke meltdown and subsequent loss to the hapless Pirates the start of something bad?

It's hard to say that there's ever a bad time to win 22 of 26. The Brewers have a 9 game lead in the NL Central, the Cards have lost 6 of their last 9, including four to NL Central bottom-feeders the Cubs and the Pirates.

The Brewers seem control of their destiny. But games like tonight's meltdown against the Pirates have to leave fans worrying about the Brewers' future down the stretch and in the postseason.

They showed resiliency by coming back to beat the Mets on Saturday, but giving up a 7-1 lead isn't going to fly once it comes to the playoffs. That's two major meltdowns in a matter of days and it leaves me wondering how long the Brewers luck will hold out.

The Brewers awful defense was on full display in Pittsburgh today, from Braun's awful play in the first game, to Corey's run-into-the-fence play in the second. Betancourt's lack of range was again an issue and generally, the inability of the team to make routine plays cost the team runs.

The Brewers have amassed enough of a lead that they only need to play mediocre .500 ball for the rest of the season and they should reach the playoffs. The Cardinals would have to go on a tear and the Brewers have many home games - where they've succeeded all season.

But wouldn't you feel so much more comfortable if this play was coming in September? It would be a spring-board into the postseason and confidence would be high.

Brewers fans have seen their team blow a 7.5 game lead in August and September and fail to make the postseason. Any fan that's followed the Brewers through the ups and downs of the past 27 or so years has to be cautiously optimistic here. You can't get cocky. You know that everything says this team is good - very good - and should continue to play strong. But you can't help but have that niggling fear that it could all go away at any moment.

Rationally, the loss of Rickie Weeks should have meant disaster for this team. Losing the offense and scoring just 10 runs in six games against the Dodgers and Pirates shouldn't have resulted in five wins.

It's hard not to get excited. Getting my postseason ticket packet in the mail last week was more exciting than anything else that happened that week. But its hard not to worry that this might all be for naught and this amazing stretch and this season could end up falling short.

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