Sunday’s victory in St. Louis was a significant one for the Milwaukee Brewers, at least in the minds of the players. Manager Craig Counsell pushed Jhoulys Chacin’s scheduled start up a day so that he could face the Cardinals, a team he had never beaten in his big league career. Though he was sporting a 6.90 ERA and 0-7 record against the Redbirds prior to the outing, Chacin lasted six scoreless frames - making it 13 innings with no runs allowed in two starts on the road trip - before turning things over to the ‘A’ bullpen of Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader to close out a 2-1 victory.
It was a win on a Sunday, which is important because the team had previously been 4-15 on The Lord’s day. It was a victory in a day game, which have been tough for the Brewers this year; they’re now 19-31 when the sun’s shining. It was a win on a getaway day, which hadn’t happened for 10 straight series dating back to before the All-Star break. And, it was a victory over a hated division rival that was red-hot coming into the series.
“Honestly, these guys feel like they own some part of the Brewers, and they don’t. We showed them today that we’re not going nowhere...This win felt great.” reliever Jeremy Jeffress said after the game. Chacin was similarly jazzed up about the win: “I think anything is possible now for me and the team. We win on Sunday, a day game, and I finally beat the Cardinals.”
With momentum perhaps finally turning their way, the Brewers defeated the Cincinnati Reds last night by a score of 5-2. Pushing back Chase Anderson an extra day proved to be prescient, as he hurled six quality innings with two runs allowed and six punchouts. Christian Yelich popped his 20th home run, Travis Shaw clubbed his 25th, and Jeffress and Hader once again closed out the victory.
Milwaukee has two more games against the Reds to close out this series and only 35 games remaining until the end of the 2018 regular season. When play begins today, our beloved local nine will have a half-game lead for the #1 Wild Card spot, and they’re just 3.0 games back of the Cubs in the chase for the NL Central crown. And of the 14 contending teams that within striking distance of the playoffs, the Brewers have the second-easiest schedule to close out the year.
Ranking contenders' schedules, from hardest to easiest:— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 20, 2018
8) Red Sox
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Milwaukee has six off-days left on the calendar, which is the most of any contending team. 20 of their 35 games will be played under the roof at Miller Park, and only 18 games will be played against teams with a .500 or better record. They also get to face the Cubs six times, the team they are looking up at in the divisional race. Things aren’t exactly daunting for the Cubs (9th-easiest schedule remaining), but two teams charging hard up the Wild Card standings - Colorado (#6) and St. Louis (#4) will have more difficult roads ahead of them.
With five of their nine games remaining this month against the hapless Reds and another three against the swooning Pirates, this is the perfect opportunity for the Brewers to right the ship and move past their own August toils. Milwaukee has the easiest road to the playoffs of any National League team, and if the club can simply hit, pitch, and play defense like they have shown they’re capable of, then come October we should be looking forward to celebrating playoff baseball in the Cream City for the first time in seven years.