Brewers back to within a game of .500
When Mike Fiers is delivering run-scoring hits, you know the Brewers are running hot.
Fiers is a rookie right-hander so futile with the bat that catcher Jonathan Lucroy suggested a few weeks ago — seriously — that he try bunting instead. It worked that day, but Fiers was 1-for-26 with 15 strikeouts before he finally swung and connected on Saturday night.
Fiers’ RBI single in a two-run second inning was a key early hit for the Brewers, and Aramis Ramirez’s ninth-inning home run came late in a 6-3 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. It was 15th victory in 19 games for the Brewers, who pulled within five games of the Cardinals for the National League’s second Wild Card berth.
All of a sudden, everything is going right for a team that finds itself one game under .500 for the first time since April 30, when Fiers was still pitching at Triple-A Nashville. They have not been a .500 team since April 24.
“I think it’s big because we’ve been under for so long,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “We’ve talked about it. We talk about if we get back to .500 and we stay hot, this could be very interesting.”
The Brewers can get there by finishing a three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon. Shaun Marcum will start against St. Louis righty Joe Kelly.
Can Milwaukee make up five games with only 23 to go, and the Dodgers and Pirates lurking in the way?
“Sure we can,” Roenicke said. “What we talk about is how many teams in front of us. That makes it way more challenging than if there’s just one team. But, sure we can. Look at what the Cardinals did last year. Absolutely, we can.”
Fiers has believed that for a while.
“I always thought we were still in it, no matter how far we were back,” he said. “I just thought with the hitting and pitching combined, and the defense we play, it was definitely a team that deserved to be in the playoffs. We just needed to put it together.”
Over the past three weeks, they have.
One more note: Ramirez returned to the lineup in a big way Saturday after missing two games with a tight back. He had three hits including that big home run, and emerged with a .300 batting average.
“He pretty much told me he was playing,” Roenicke said.
“I don’t really like to be babysit,” Ramirez said. “I’ve been around long enough to know what I can play, when I can’t. As soon as I walked in here today I went to his office and told him I was good to go.”
Asked whether he back to 100 percent, Ramirez said, “Nobody is. It’s September. … We’ve only got 20-plus games and it’s going to take a lot for me to leave the lineup.”
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