Oddly, the Milwaukee Brewers are invoking the memory of last year’s playoff loss to the Cardinals as inspiration this season.
After a weekend sweep of the Pirates, Milwaukee moved within 6.5 games of a wild-card spot in the National League. Last year, the Cardinals were 10.5 back in the wild-card race in late August and clinched a wild-card berth on the final day of the season. St. Louis then beat Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Texas in claiming the World Series title.
"We're in it. One hundred percent. By no means do we think we're out of it," Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"It's not easy. Obviously, we recognize it's not easy. But we just need to continue to play good baseball. I think all year we've been waiting to put together a stretch like this, where we're doing everything well at the same time, and we're doing it right now."
1 Nationals (Last week: 1): Through Sunday, Jayson Werth has a .360 average with a .978 OPS as a leadoff hitter.
2 Rangers (2): Texas has had the outright lead in the West for 147 days.
3 Reds (3): This isn’t fair: Joey Votto returns from injury.
4 Giants (6): They will play only one team (the Dodgers for six games) that currently has a winning record from here on out.
5 Braves (5): Kris Medlan (28.1 straight scoreless innings) is the new Greg Maddux.
6 Yankees (4): A-Rod’s return should give the team a lift, but they have some serious injury issues.
7 A's (9): Scored 72 runs in current nine-game winning streak.
8 Tigers (10): Former Mizzou pitcher Max Scherzer is on a roll with nine-plus strikeouts in nine straight games.
9 Rays (8): Just 11th in the American League in runs scored.
10 Orioles (13): Trade for Joe Saunders could be just enough to get O’s in the playoffs.
11 White Sox (7): Was sweep at hands of the Tigers the beginning of the end?
12 Cardinals (11): Carlos Beltran hasn’t hit a home run since Aug. 10 and is batting .203 in his last 34 games.
13 Dodgers (12): Just 4-5 since making the blockbuster trade with the Red Sox.
14 Angels (15): Playoff push must begin with series win against the A’s.
15 Pirates (14): Just 10-19 since Aug. 3. Forget playoffs, their hopes of a .500 season may be in jeopardy, too.
16 Phillies (17): Still a thorn in the Braves’ side.
17 Diamondbacks (16): Play 25 of last 28 against West foes and must start to make up ground.
18 Mariners (19): Trading Ichiro Suzuki seemed to spark the Mariners.
19 Brewers (21): Aramis Ramirez, known more for his bat, has the best fielding percentage (.975) of any NL third baseman.
20 Red Sox (18): The sweep in Oakland was flat-out ugly.
21 Mets (20): Since the All-Star break, New York has scored the second-fewest runs in the NL (167).
22 Royals (23): Just 8-23 against last-place teams in the American League.
23 Blue Jays (22): Edwin Encarnacion has 14 homers, 37 RBIs in second half.
24 Marlins (24): The John Buck Mendoza Watch: The former Royal went zero for four on Friday and his average dropped to .197.
25 Padres (27): They’ve got a serious shot at third place in the West.
26 Twins (26): Joe Mauer on waivers caused quite a stir in Twin Cities.
27 Cubs (25): Eliminated from NL Central race.
28 Rockies (29): Manager Jim Tracy used 26 different lineups in first 28 games of August.
29 Indians (28): Cleveland is has allowed the most runs and scored the fewest in the AL.
30 Astros (30): The Roger Clemens comeback tour will continue this week with another start Friday for Sugar Land.