This season started badly and postseason hopes are over, but Brewers can be proud of their turnaround.
By RYAN KARTJEFS Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE — So many had expected this day to come for the
Milwaukee Brewers sometime at the beginning of September. The Brewers seemed destined to be eliminated so much earlier than with just three games left in the season, given how badly the first half of 2012 had gone.
But with the help of an amazing run from the end of August to last week, winning 24 out of 30, the Brewers' prolonged their elimination date -- even offering some hope of a miracle trip to the playoffs. On Sunday, however, with five losses in their last eight games prior, the Brewers were eliminated from the postseason by the league-worst Houston Astros in a 7-0 blowout loss.
It was as ugly of a game as the Brewers have played all season, as mediocre Astros starter Jordan Lyles pitched a three-hit, complete game shutout. Brewers starter Mike Fiers gave up four home runs, despite striking out 10 batters. And Milwaukee fell behind early, looking as though they had simply run out of gas after making an incredible run in early-to-mid September.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke wasn't sure yet how he'd reflect on Milwaukee's up-and-down season just yet, the emotions of one of the season's worst series still very present. But he said after the game that he would address the team before tomorrow's game and give a summation of how the season had gone as a whole.
"It's just hard right now," Roenicke said. "To play as well as we did to get back in it, and this was a very disappointing series for me."
Heading into an epic two-series cap to their longest road trip of the year last week, the Brewers desperately needed to win their final game against Cincinnati on Thursday, going into the ninth with a 1-0 lead. But after a ninth-inning home run and subsequent late win by the Reds began the tailspin, the Brewers were unable to pull themselves back into the race.
This day, since then, had seemingly been imminent. But always, the Brewers had held out some meager hope that they could pull of a miracle. On Sunday, those hopes were officially dashed, putting a cap on the 2012 season with three games remaining.
"We were all realistic," catcher Jonathan Lucroy said of the Brewers' playoff hopes in the past week. "But we were never going to give up . . . We were going to go out fighting, and I think we did. We obviously didn't have a good game today . . . but I think the last month showed our character as a team."
But will Milwaukee's players and the organization see that final run and the season as a whole as a success, even without a playoff berth?
"I don't know because last year this team won 96 games," third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. "This year, 81 so far. So I don't know. We'll see how we finish.
"We tried. We did our best. We played really good ball the last month and a half or so. We just fell short."