Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 9/26/12
MILWAUKEE The Milwaukee Brewers spent three months of this baseball season digging themselves into a deep, dark hole, only to emerge at the surface just in time to make things interesting. They were goners. Until they weren't. The world had written them off, and for good reason. Even just a year after the St. Louis Cardinals went on a tremendous late-season run and proved that the once-down-and-out team could win the World Series, the Brewers' deficit on Aug. 20 seemed, in a way, much more extreme than that of St. Louis. Milwaukee wasn't playing good baseball, couldn't get consistent help out of its bullpen and had, a month earlier, shipped its best pitcher off to Orange County. The spark in the clubhouse just wasn't there. It couldn't be clearer, it seemed, that the Brewers weren't destined to be a playoff team. But then something funny happened on the way to the bottom of that deep, dark hole. Suddenly, no one could beat them. The clubhouse soon turned light and enthusiastic. The bullpen was pitching. Everyone was hitting. And the wild-card deficit grew smaller and smaller. It was an instant renaissance one so extreme, so uncommon in sports that it changed the culture around the team, as well. The Brewers were suddenly an unstoppable force, all in the course of a month. That is, until they met the only immovable object in their way, the only thing that could make emerging from that deep, dark hole impossible. Time.In the age of the wild-card in baseball, there is nothing more important than momentum. Momentum can carry a lesser team past a greater one without hesitation in a seven-game baseball series something that was proven as recently as last year. And it's true: Few teams in baseball can match the Brewers' momentum right now. If they managed to sneak a playoff bid and proved victorious in the one-game wild-card matchup, there's no doubt they'd be major players for a World Series berth. They're playing that well right now. But without time, momentum is futile. Milwaukee is down 4.5 games with just eight left to go. St. Louis still has a game against the league-worst Astros and two tough opponents at home in Washington and Cincinnati. But the Cardinals have momentum, as well. More important, they also have time on their side. In Tuesday night's game, it couldn't seem more apparent that time was about to run out on the Brewers' budding Cinderella story. Despite fighting as hard he could, it seemed, Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers who had been so unexpectedly spectacular for the first three-quarters of his first season had so clearly run out of gas. And after scoring at will for so long, whenever and wherever they needed, the Brewers couldn't find their offense and left just one runner on base against Reds' pitcher Johnny Cueto. The clock has been ticking for a while now. And as tragic as the end to Milwaukee's comeback story may seem, it appears the clock will stop just before the finish line for the Brewers. If Milwaukee finishes the season with eight straight wins, the Cardinals would have to win only three of their remaining games to match the 87-win total. And with a likely victory against the Astros on Wednesday, St. Louis would need to win just once in both of its series against the Reds and Nationals to give Milwaukee even a shred of hope. "It's certainly looking a lot tougher," manager Ron Roenicke said on Wednesday. "We're going to have to get some big-time help." But unless the Cardinals can spot the Brewers some of their valuable and abundant time, it appears that the clock may have struck midnight on Milwaukee. Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
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