The Milwaukee Brewers will be leaving Miller Park for the last time in the regular season on a 10-game, three city road trip. They will start with four in Philadelphia, then three games in the I-94 series with the Cubs, and finish it off with three versus the Reds.
The Brewers just finished a home stand in which they went 3-7, where the got swept by the Mets and narrowly avoided another against Cincinnati.
There are really only two key things that Milwaukee must do in order to make it a successful trip on the road.
1. Score Runs
Sounds pretty simple right? Well, in their recent 10 game home stand, the Brewers got outscored 49-26 and never scored more than five runs in a single game. Scoring an average of 2.6 runs-per-game, at home, isn't going to cut it.
Milwaukee failed to score runs because their run producers (hitters #2-5), didn't get the job done. Here's what those four did on the home stand.
J.J. Hardy: 9-44 (.205), 3 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K
Ryan Braun: 9-39 (.231), two doubles, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 10 K
Prince Fielder: 6-36 (.167), double, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 8 K
Corey Hart: 7-36 (.194), two doubles, 2 RBI, 2BB, 6 K
Totals: 31-155 (.200), five doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 14 BB, 30 K
When your power in the lineup can't hit above the Mendoza Line, something needs to change. Maybe that change is just getting out of Milwaukee.
All three ballparks on the trip are hitters parks, so look for the Brewers to put up some crooked numbers on the scoreboard. Also look for them to add to their home run total; after all, they live and die by the long ball. We saw that perfectly clear in the home stand, as Hardy hit all their home runs (3), and the Brewers got beat, repeatedly.
2. Have Fun
Perhaps more important than scoring runs, even though the two are intertwined. It's hard to have fun when you're not scoring runs, and it's hard to score runs when you're not having fun.
That's one of the reasons that Milwaukee failed to score at home, it didn't look like there was any fun going on in the dugout because they were struggling in front of the home crowd. It's also hard to have fun when you're getting booed all the time at home.
Maybe when these guys bunk up in hotel rooms on the road, their crazy antics will return. It will also help that the Phillies and Cubs might be the ones getting booed if they struggle in those series'.
Milwaukee is the one leading the wild card, and the Phillies are the team chasing them, so all the pressure is on the side of Philadelphia. Having that weight lifted off the Brewers' shoulders will allow them to play loose, rather than playing to not lose, thus bringing the joking/laughter/fun back to the Brewers dugout.
If Milwaukee does one of these two things starting in Philadelphia tonight, then the other will soon follow. The Brewers can possibly increase their wild card lead, or simple stay put with a four-game split with the Phillies.
Any way you look at, the only team that can take away the wild card from the Milwaukee Brewers are the Milwaukee Brewers.