Cards sweep Brewers - what does it mean?
The Cardinals completed a sweep of the Brewers yesterday in spectacular fashion, as Albert Pujols, who the Brewers had really held in check over the season series until this point, went 4-for-4 with 5 RBI and two home-runs - including a third-inning grand slam that put the game out of the reach of the Brewers.
Thursday's game featured a leadoff home run from Rafeael Furcal (who's hit 5 HR all season and 3 of them are against the Brewers) followed by a home run from Pujols in the third at-bat of the game. You'll remember the same thing happened to lead of Wednesday's game. In Wednesday's game, it was pitcher Jake Westbrook who hit the grand slam. Thursday it was Pujols.
The games were eerily similar and seem to have split Brewers fans down the middle in terms of whether or not it's time to worry about the Brewers (now) 7.5 game lead in the NL Central.
I definitely fall in with those who find the past week or two of games worrisome. I'm not so concerned with the win/loss record, but with what these losses say about the Brewers' ability to compete in the postseason. If they law down against the Cardinals now, what are they going to do against a team like the streaking D'Backs or the Phillies.
The Brewers' upcoming series with the Phillies will tell us a lot about where this team stands in its ability to make a postseason run. If they fail against Philadelphia like they did against St. Louis, it will be another short and sweet run for the Brewers.
But there are plenty of Brewers fans who are still realists and aren't letting this momentary slide knock them off their pedestal.
Over at Brewers Bar, they point out that despite the sweep, math is still on the Brewers' side. The Brewers have 24 games to play, while the Cardinals have 25.
Jaymes at Brewers Bar points out that if the Brewers play .500 ball the rest of the way - going 12-12, it would mean September is the Brewers' only losing season this year (meaning its not bloody likely). But if they do, they Cardinals still have to go 20-5 to force a one-game playoff.
The Cardinals have still not strung together more than four wins in a row all season. Their schedule for the final few weeks looks similar to the Brewers - they have three against Atlanta and four against Philadelphia - tough series. They also have six left against bottom-feeders Houston and Pittsburgh.
One would hope that yesterday's loss was an eye-opener for the Brewers and we won't see that sort of lackluster performance against the Cardinals next week.
The Brewers did manage to score runs in the series - it was the starting pitching that was the problem. Prior to this series, the starting pitching had been spectacular, so I suppose a drop-off was inevitable. As was a losing streak, after their amazing August run. And if there was going to be a blip in the road, I'd rather have it to end August, then end September or heading into the playoffs.
When the Brewers amassed their huge lead, I was still cautiously optimistic. I remember the team blowing the lead in 2007 and I've had some heartbreak as a Brewers fan. There was too much time left in the season to not worry that things could go wrong. It seemed like inevitable heartbreak to assume that the Brewers were made from that point on.
I'm not saying I'm no longer there. But I'm much more worried about these coming series.