Good test for Greinke tonight
Let’s be clear — Wednesday’s regular season finale is not a “must win” for the Brewers, who have already clinched their postseason ticket. But it is certainly a “want to win” game, as a victory would mean beginning the National League Division Series at home on Saturday. Win or lose tonight, the Brewers are baseball’s best home team.
So, it’s a good glimpse into how Zack Greinke might perform under pressure. He’s pitching on three days’ rest at his own request, unwilling to wait more than a week between his final regular-season start and his first in the postseason. Considering the Brewers need to win to begin the postseason at home, this is as close to playoff pressure as Greinke will have experienced in his eight-year Major League career.
The Brewers would have preferred to have home-field advantage clinched by now, which would have allowed them to pitch Greinke only an inning or two as a tune-up for Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday. Instead, Dodgers reliever Blake Hawksworth decided not to cover first base with two outs and a five-run lead in the 10th inning in Arizona last night, opening the door for the D-backs to rally for an improbable win.
A Brewers win or a D-backs loss tonight would give the Brewers the No. 2 seed. A Brewers loss AND a D-backs win would give it to Arizona.
Either way, the Brewers might not know by the end of tonight who they will play in the postseason. That depends on the outcome of the NL Wild Card race, which has Atlanta and St. Louis tied entering today.
Then there’s the NL batting race, with Jose Reyes leading at .337057 (181-for-537) after bunting for a hit Wednesday and then bolting the Mets’ season finale. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun enters tonight at .334525 (187-for-559) and must go 3-for-4 or or better to win the Brewers’ first batting title.
So many scenarios it makes your head hurt. Good luck to me and the rest of the scribes getting a flight if we have to be somewhere else for a workout on Friday…
Anyway, the Brewers will play to win tonight with this lineup:
Corey Hart RF
Jerry Hairston 3B
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Carlos Gomez CF
Zack Greinke RHP
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