The Milwaukee Brewers clinched their second straight post-season appearance Wednesday night, with Ryan Braun’s grand slam sparking a 9-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that also tightened the NL Central race.
The Brewers have won six in a row and 17 of 19 despite losing MVP Christian Yelich to a broken kneecap, vaulting from also-ran to at least a wild card. There’s more at their fingertips — the division-leading Cardinals lost again on Wednesday, slicing their lead over the Brewers to 1 1/2 games.
Milwaukee trails Washington by one game for the wild card lead.
The Brewers jogged onto the field and formed a scrum by second base after when Junior Guerra got Christian Colon on a grounder for the final out.
A sizzlin’ September topped off by a bubbly celebration. Nobody does it better than these Brewers.
Last season, they raced from a five-game deficit to the NL Central title by going 19-6 after Sept. 1. They caught the Cubs and won a tiebreaker at Wrigley Field, then swept the Rockies and reached the NL Championship Series before losing in seven games to the Dodgers.
They’ve pulled off another improbable run with manager Craig Counsell’s outside-the-box resourcefulness, the bullpen’s imperviousness and the offence’s ability to find a new star each game with everything on the line.
Braun — the 2007 NL Rookie of the Year and 2011 NL Most Valuable Player — has found his touch during this current winning streak.
Braun had a solo shot in a 4-2 win in the series opener, and got the celebration started early Wednesday with his eighth career grand slam in the first inning. Teammates were on their feet, leaning against the dugout railing in anticipation of a big night, when he connected off Tyler Mahle (2-12).
This was the sixth overall playoff spot for the Brewers, who started out as the Seattle Pilots in 1969 and moved to Milwaukee the next year. The only other back-to-back playoff appearances came for the Brewers in 1981-82. The franchise has never won the World Series.