WASHINGTON -- Captivating as the Brewers' September surge has been, manager Ron Roenicke has remained cautious with his optimism as Milwaukee battles the National League East-leading Nationals this weekend.
But that doesn't mean that with the Brewers within 2 1/2 games of the Cardinals for the final NL Wild Card spot, that Milwaukee skipper hasn't looked back and wondered what could've been. The Brewers, a 40-45 team in the first half of the season, have overcome a rash of injuries, occasionally inconsistent run production, and a bullpen that once stood as one of MLB's worst to play 15-5 baseball in September.
"You go back, you always think about those things," Roenicke said. "I think you have to think about what happened in the past to figure out what you need to do in the future when those things do happen, because they're going to happen again. We're going to go through stretches where the bullpen's bad, we're going to go through stretches where we don't score any runs at all. The more times you go through these, the more you may have an answer for at least getting it a little bit better."
With 11 games left on the schedule entering play Sunday, the Brewers have no off-days remaining, magnifying the significance of any otherwise normal nicks and bruises sustained during September baseball. Corey Hart continues to work his way back from a left arch injury, while Ryan Braun is playing through a groin issue that has kept him sore for the past few days. Carlos Gomez also has both a left quad/thigh issue and a sore right foot.
"It's that time of the year," Roenicke said. "You want to get it done, and the guys are going out there every day. I think this happens a lot. September's a tough month with these guys, physically."
With that said, and with the Brewers also sporting a clubhouse with an average age of 28.1 years old -- 17th youngest in baseball -- Roenicke is placing an emphasis on not pressing too hard.
"I think the position that we're in now, we know we have to play great baseball. That doesn't mean we have to win every single game. And I don't think that the feeling of you have to win every game is a good atmosphere to put on a team when you go out to play every day. When you've got three games to go, OK."