This was an eventful weekend for Brewers fans. First, the good news. They collected their 81st win, guaranteeing a non-losing season. With 4 games left, they are very likely to finish what earlier looked like a dismal season with a winning record. Could happen tonight, even.
The bad news is that they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs when they lost 7-0 to the Houston Astros, who are indisputably baseball’s worst team.
Good and bad, as with everything else. Besides, as Cubs fans have been saying for well over a century — there’s always next year. I’ll savor the end of this one, but already next season can’t come soon enough.
The Brewers’ playoff chances are down to 0.1 percent, according to CoolStandings.com. But that’s ok, because the team is on the cusp of a milestone victory. One more win guarantees a non-losing season. Two more would make for a winning season. Not bad for a team that was 12 games below .500 at one point earlier in the year.
There are five games left in the season. All are against weak opposition, so this feat of mediocrity appears eminently doable. As a fan, if playoffs aren’t in the picture, a non-losing season is a decent consolation prize.
Rookie Wily Peralta pitched 8 shutout innings in his third career start, and Ryan Braun hit two home runs to lift the Brewers over the Mets, 3-0.
Meanwhile, the Cubs beat Pittsburgh 13-9. Promising rookie Anthony Rizzo had two home runs of his own, including his first career grand slam.
That means that if the Cubs win all their remaining games and the Brewers lose all of theirs, they will finish with identical 74-88 records. The Brewers can now officially do no worse than their rivals.
To ensure a better finish, the magic number is now 1. The next Brewer win or Cub loss ensures Milwaukee’s bragging rights over their southern neighbors.
Milwaukee’s magic number to finish higher than the Cubs is down to 2 games. If the Brewers beat the Mets today and the Cubs lose to Pittsburgh, it’s clinched.
CoolStandings.com puts Milwaukee’s playoff chances at 7.3 percent, so I’m not getting my hopes up for that. But they can finish with a winning record. They’re 73-72 entering today’s game, so if the Brewers finish the season with 9-8 run, they can do it. An 8-9 finish puts them at .500.
Considering how the season began, this fan is more than pleased to be realistically hoping for a winning record. If they aren’t playoff-bound, that’s not a bad consolation prize.
The Brewers have been on an extended hot streak. To the surprise of everyone but themselves, they have played their way back to .500. Their record is 71-71 entering tonight’s game against Atlanta.
The Brewers are even back in the fringes of the playoff race, thanks to the second wild card spot that MLB added this year. They’re fighting a lot of teams for it — Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Philly, LA, Atlanta — but at least they’re fighting. Considering how badly the earlier parts of the season went, 2012 actually turned out to be a good year. I doubt they’ll make the playoffs, but at least they’re playing meaningful baseball this time of year.
The 55-87 Cubs haven’t been so fortunate. By my calculations, Milwaukee’s magic number to beat the Cubs is down to 5. Both teams have 20 games left to play. I might have to set a higher goal for my Brewers.
It wasn’t a historic drubbing like Monday’s 15-4 victory, where the Brewers homered back-to-back-to-back for the first time since 2007. Even without extra innings in that game, the Cubs blew through their entire bullpen and had to use a position player as a pitcher for the first time since 1999.
There was none of that, but a regular old 4-1 victory counts just as much in the standings. More importantly, it brings the Brewers’ Cub-beating magic number down to 23, with 34 games left to play.
The Brewers have now beaten the Cubs 6 times in a row, and won 7 of their last 8 overall. They’re still not going anywhere near the playoffs, but it is good to see them playing well.
The Brewers’ magic number to finish with a better record than the Cubs is down to 27. The two teams begin a four-game series tonight at Wrigley Field. It is the last time they play each other this year.
Each Brewer victory during the series will lower the magic number by two, so a sweep would bring the magic number to 19. If Cubs manage a sweep, it will remain unchanged.