MILWAUKEE – Nineteen last strikes for the 19 batters faced by Milwaukee’s bullpen in Friday night’s 7-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
1. The Milwaukee Brewers are not quite where they want to be as of right now, but they’re in a great spot.
2. The ultimate goal as the season went on became claiming the division crown away from the Chicago Cubs. The goal prior to the season was qualifying for the playoffs in any way, shape, or form.
3. The first goal is attainable, as Milwaukee currently trails Chicago by 1 ½ games with just over two weeks of baseball left to play. As for the second goal, the Brewers are in the driver’s seat for that one.
4. With the victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night – Milwaukee’s 12th in the past 16 games – the Brewers reduced their magic number to clinch a playoff berth down to 11. There’s plenty of baseball left to play, and October baseball isn’t a sure thing for the Brewers as of right now, but it’s a good bet that they’ll be a participant.
5. Milwaukee’s lead for a playoff spot is currently sitting at four full games over both St. Louis and Los Angeles.
6. At this point, with how well the Brewers are playing currently, their cushion, and remaining games with bottom-feeding Cincinnati and Detroit, missing the playoffs would be a complete and total failure for this team. The ceiling should be stealing the division from the Cubs, but the floor should be a National League Wild Card berth.
7. When both Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain were acquired this winter, this is what the organization had in mind for the outfielders. They will each likely finish in the top 10 in most valuable player voting. They’ve been that good for Milwaukee. The difference between the falling off in 2017 and competing in 2018 has been the play of those two.
8. That was evident again on Friday night as Cain made yet another outstanding defensive play to add to his season-long highlight reel and Yelich hit his 29th home run of the year to put the Brewers on the scoreboard first.
9. Yelich also became the first member of the Brewers to reach 100 runs scored in a season since Ryan Braun accomplished the feat way back in 2012. He’s been on base in 29 consecutive games.
10. Cain reached base twice on Friday night, scored a run, and stole a base in addition to his leaping grab at the wall. He’s been just as good as Yelich even if he may not be as celebrated.
11. Long story short, they’re the real deal.
12. Don’t let the accomplishments of just those two fool you, however. The Brewers are clicking on all cylinders as a team. Orlando Arcia, not named in the starting lineup in this victory, finished the night with three hits, including a crucial 2-run bunt double.
13. No, that’s not a typo, Arica drove in two runs with a bunt double down the first base line. The ball hugged the line and ultimately bounced right over the bag, and provided how far Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell was away from the bag it allowed Arcia to accomplish the feat.
14. Numerous Brewers, including Mike Moustakas, Gio Gonzalez, and Travis Shaw all agreed that they had not seen something quite like that in their careers. That trio already has over 20 years of combined Major League service time. So, yeah, that’s rare.
15. Getting back to the playoff picture, Arcia admitted that he’s scoreboard watching during this race. By time the media was in the clubhouse he was aware that the Cubs beat the Reds 3-2 and the Dodgers knocked off the Cardinals 3-0 earlier in the evening.
16. Scoreboard watching is a natural part of any pennant chase, especially when the team is really involved in two totally separate races. At this point it’s logical to assume that the Cardinals chance at the postseason is the wild card, leaving the division up for grabs between the Brewers and Cubs.
17. The focus for the Brewers will always be on their game, first and foremost, but watching the scoreboard is going to happen, too.
18. The Brewers are hoping to not only keep watching the scoreboard in delight, but also watch their magic number shrink all the way down to an official playoff berth for the first time since 2011.
19. The Brewers and Pirates continue this series on Saturday evening at Miller Park. First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m. CT.