The Brewers were never really in the National League Central race this season, a first for Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and the rest of the club’s relatively young core. But it still stung on Sunday, when they were officially out of it.
Jose Guillen belted a first-inning grand slam and finished with six RBIs to help the Giants avoid a three-game sweep with a 9-2 thumping of the Brewers, putting San Francisco back in first place in the competitive National League West and formally eliminating Milwaukee from the Central.
“I don’t think there’s been any point at all in the second half where we’ve been excited about where we’re at in the standings or we’ve really felt we had a realistic chance of winning our division,” said left fielder Ryan Braun, who provided two highlights, one in the field and one at the plate.
“Obviously that’s disappointing,” Braun said. “It’s different for all of us, because each of the last three years we’ve been fortunate to be in it for the majority of the year. In ’07, it went down to the final week. In ’08, we went to the postseason. And last year we finished the season strong.
“It’s a different experience. It’s hard to have adrenaline or intensity unless you’re playing against a team like [the Giants] … trying to get to the postseason. For most of us, I don’t think we’ve ever been on a bad team. It’s a different experience. Definitely not fun.”
Braun did have some fun on Sunday, robbing Giants center fielder Cody Ross of a home run in the first inning and then hitting a two-run homer, Braun’s 23rd this season, in the sixth.
But Braun’s effort was not enough for the Brewers to avoid falling back to 10 games under .500 at 69-79. They are 13 games behind the first-place Reds in the loss column, and Cincinnati has only 12 games to play.