A couple stats I noticed examining this run–
- Brewers have not lost back-to-back games since July 23-24 in San Francisco
- The fewest consecutive victories that have followed a loss in that span is 4
- team batting average in August has been .283, best in NL (they are 4th in the league for the season)
- team ERA for the month is 3.02, 3rd in NL
We remember that “this has happened before,” when the Brewers went 20-7 in August of ’08, only to follow with an epic 3-14 collapse to kick off September, but the make-up of this year’s pitching staff is so much better top-to-bottom, the management is decidedly more even-tempered, and the best players are much more seasoned.
The local press and the fans are starting to really get caught up in post-season chatter, watching the “magic number,” (23, btw) and dreaming of a run to the history books, but reading the interviews with the players, watching the manager’s press conferences day to day, you don’t get the sense that the team is worried about that stuff at all. They seem confident, relaxed, and focused on each series as they happen.
In ’08, Nedly McYosterton got more and more wound up as the season wore on… and who could blame him? In ’07, he oversaw another epic collapse – a team that led the division by as many as 8.5, and still hung on to first place as late as August 16, only to swoon under the pressure. Combine that with a tense city that desperately wanted the promise of a decade’s worth of high draft picks to pay post-season dividends, and you had a recipe for a nervous breakdown. I don’t see those issues with this team. The biggest linchpin to that is the pitching.
In ’08 we had one amazing starter, one great but injury-plagued complement to him, and a couple guys that had occasional nice streaks of 2 to 4 starts. They backed that up with a bullpen that featured a fill-in closer and a couple hot hands to bridge the gap.
Here in 2011, we have a rock-solid if not spectacular starting rotation; there are five guys in there that have surprised you with the occasional poor outing, as opposed to the opposite. And since the trade for K-Rod, the roles for the last third of the game are well-defined and just as solid. I can only imagine what that does for the individuals as well as the overall team psyche, to know that you count on players to perform day-in and day-out. And that even when you take the inevitable loss, you feel like you can come back and get them the next day.
It’s a good time to be here. I’m looking forward to the stretch run…