The Milwaukee Brewers went on a tear in which they won nine straight games, set franchise records in several categories and declared by all as the hottest team in baseball. Two games later, it already looks to be a distant memory.
The St. Louis Cardinals have Milwaukee’s number every year. The only way the Brewers are going to hoist a National League Central division crown in 2014 is by going through the Cardinals. There simply is no way around it.
Two games into the season against St. Louis and Milwaukee is already 0-for-2. The offense that was torching opposing pitchers has been only able to muster one run in 18 innings. The starting pitching that has been lights out for a majority of the young season has surrendered seven earned runs in two games. Even supposed closer turned whatever-the-Brewers-need-him-for Jim Henderson allowed three earned runs in Tuesday night’s contest. I was under the impression the bullpen wasn’t supposed to give up runs.
It sounds selfish to be upset over two losses after a string of nine wins. The reality is Milwaukee still has the best record in the National League. The issue is simply that the two defeats came at the hands of St. Louis. Every Brewers fan in existence understands the importance of taking as many of the 19 regular season games against the Cardinals as possible. It may not seem like much in the third week of the season, but every contest against the division rival counts. The last thing I want to do is to be forced to say, “I told you so” in September.
Ryan Braun (1-for-8 in the series) has got to pull it together. The players feed off his energy and success. And right now, he has neither. Starting pitcher Wily Peralta is going to have to pitch a gem during the series finale to ensure the Brewers take at least one game.
Getting swept by the Cardinals wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen this early in the season. At the same time, the Brewers need to build confidence, not take blows to their self-esteem. Obviously, there’s no reason to panic, but a win would certainly put everyone emotionally involved in the team at ease.