Brewers Win Game One on the West Coast Trip

As we discussed yesterday, one of the most frustrating issues with this Brewers team is their inconsistency. The fact that they scored ten runs last night, after scoring eight in the entire Pirate series, just proves that point. Regardless, it was nice to see the offense click once again. Apparently this team likes the West Coast. They have played some of their best baseball on the road against NL West opponents. I am not sure what to make of that. This may be the only team from Wisconsin that plays well in the Pacific time zone.

It was great to see Kyle Lohse back and healthy once again. After tweaking his ankle, the Brewers game him some time off and he appeared to pick up right where he left off. He will be a big part of this rotation as we move toward the playoffs.

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The Time is Now for the Milwaukee Brewers

If at the start of the season, somebody would have told me the Brewers would have a 1.5 game lead on August 25th, I would have been ecstatic. However, given the tremendous start to the season, this lead feels almost disappointing. The Brewers were cruising through the first half of the season, with the Cardinals trailing fairly far behind. The division lead was at a comfortable number, five or so for most of the time, and the pitching staff was throwing the ball really well. It seemed as though the Brewers had this on cruise control, and for a while, an chance to play in October seemed very likely.

The July happened. The lead vanished and the Cardinals caught up. We should not be overly surprised. This type of fluctuation is what happens with a streaky team. Success can very easily be followed by a prolonged slump. Unfortunately for the Brewers, the high water mark of the season was in early May. Since then, the Brewers have retreated and the rest of the NL Central has caught up. Now the Brewers are in the midst of pennant race. Every game has playoff implications, and unfortunately for Milwaukee, last night they boarded a plane for the West Coast.

This upcoming road trip could be the turning point of the season. A nine game road trip with six on the West Coast and no days off will tell us a lot about the make up of this team. The dog days of summer are behind us and the playoff push has arrived. Three games in San Diego, San Francisco and another series in Chicago (weren’t we just there?) now loom large. For the Brewers, this could be the “make or break” road trip.

After this nine game road trip, the Brewers will face off in what will be a very important home series against the Cardinals. If the Brewers area able to play around .500 base ball on the road, that series could very well be for first place in the Central. That series against the Cards will be the first of seven games against them in a span of only two weeks. The point here is, it would be nice to maintain a lead in the division prior to entering that stretch. The Cardinals are the more seasoned team when it comes to post season baseball, and they will be ready for that stretch. I would much rather have a cushion than have to win those series to get back in the race. For that to happen, this road trip needs to be successful.

It has been a volatile season, but through the ups and downs, the Brewers remain in command of the Central. Their record also puts them comfortably ahead in the Wild Card standings should the Cardinals catch the Crew. Needless to say, nobody wants to play in a one game playoff, but that would be better than no post season baseball at all. The first step in avoiding that Wild Card situation is taking care of business on the road. The first month of the Brewers season was strong, let’s see if they can have bookend strong months in 2014.

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Brewers Season on Brink

I am not an alarmist, especially when it comes to baseball. A lot can happen over 162 games, and so when a team hits a tough stretch, in my opinion, it is not something worth panicking over. The fact is, every team in the league will struggle this season will struggle at some point.

However, I am somewhat concerned with the fact that the Brewers have not been able to overcome this recent patch of adversity. It is unrealistic to envision a team not having a losing streak over four or five games for an entire season. Even a rough ten game stretch is to be expected. However, teams that make the playoffs stop the bleeding. At this point the Brewers have not been able to get out of this last 20 game tail spin.

That fact is concerning. This recent stretch of baseball has been very ugly. Sunday may have been a tipping point. A base running error in the top of the ninth, followed by a fielding error in the bottom of the ninth, and the Brewers lost the series to the Nationals. Ron Roenicke finally seemed to vent some frustration after the game, and maybe his message will be heard.

Again, these things (mistakes, losing streaks)happen during the course of a year. However, if the Brewers want to contend for the rest of the season, they need to stop soon. Fundamental mistakes, poor pitching, and terrible hitting; these are the necessary ingredients for a prolonged slump. Teams that struggle through prolonged slumps do not usually make the playoffs.

I am not jumping ship. The Brewers are still in first and are ten games over the .500 mark. For late July, those are quite the accomplishments. However, if they cannot improve quickly, our playoff run might be over by the first Packers game.

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Good Defense Beats Good Offense

Last night was a great indication of what it takes to win a Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl Championship on the back of their stifling defense. They made Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos look awful. That was not something many people expected to happen in this game. Many, including myself, thought this would be a close game. We were wrong.

It is evident that the key to winning a Super Bowl is a reliable defense. The Seattle offense was not overpowering by any means last night, but the fact is, they did not have to be. Their defense dominated, and essentially required the offense to score nine points. In reality, the defense and special teams covered that number. The offense did not have to actually produce one single point for the Seahawks to win. That is impressive.

As a Packer fan, it was abundantly clear that the Seahawks defense is on a different level. They have the ability to win games. That is something that the Packers needed their defense to do this season during Rodgers’ injury. Unfortunately for the Packers, they did not have the talent to accomplish that feat. That is where the Packers fall short. When comparing this team to the leaders in the NFC, namely the 49ers and Seahawks, the Pack are not in the same discussion when it comes to defense. That is why they continue to come up short despite a prolific offense.

Hopefully the organization watched the speed and talent on the defensive side of the ball last night. The Packers are close, and if they decide to make a move in the free agent market this off season, they may be playing in Arizona next February. If they choose to stand pat, they will watch the game just like the rest of us.

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