Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 8/2/12
MILWAUKEE Ryan Braun stood at home plate in the sixth inning of Wednesday's game against the Astros with a full count and no intention of heading back to the dugout empty-handed. Pitch after pitch, Houston reliever Fernando Rodriguez dealt him fastballs, hoping to catch the Brewers star left fielder off-balance. But Braun remained determined, as he has all season, intent on making something work a task that hasn't always been easy for his team this season. But Braun has never wavered. The face of Milwaukee baseball has kept his face forward all year. He knows as well as anyone how difficult the road ahead will be with his team down 15 games in the NL Central a deficit made up by only a few teams in the history of major league baseball. But on Wednesday after the Brewers had wrapped up their three-game sweep only their second sweep of the season Braun wasn't concerned with how far Milwaukee had fallen in the first 100 games of the season. His eyes are still on the playoffs no matter how far they've already slipped out of view. "There's a lot of baseball left," Braun said. "The most important thing is getting back to consistently playing winning baseball Hopefully, a three-game sweep will get us back on the right track. "There's no reason to give up." And against Rodriguez, Braun set the example the rest of the Brewers need to follow in 2012, even if that view of the postseason continues to grow dimmer. Fastball. Fastball. Fastball. Each pitch from the Astros' right-hander, Braun fouled away, refusing to give in. Then, four more fastballs, all of them knocked into the stands in foul territory. Finally, as Rodriguez's 14th pitch of the at-bat crossed the plate, Braun barreled the ball to the right field corner and over the wall, 394 feet the Brewers' third home run of the day and Braun's NL-leading 29th. There were no white flags waving on this day as Braun rounded the bases, no sign of the Brewers giving up on this season. Even after a trade of ace pitcher Zack Greinke more or less admitted that the Brewers' playoff contention was an unlikely dream, Milwaukee has won four of six after losing the seven games prior. Milwaukee hasn't given up at least not yet. And if it hopes to contend in 2013, there's no reason to act like this season is already lost. There's plenty of growing left to be done even if that growth doesn't end in the postseason. With a bevy of young prospects likely to come up to the major leagues in the next two months, the Brewers can position themselves through August and September for a much quicker start in 2013. As players such as Mark Rogers, Jean Segura, Scooter Gennett, Tyler Thornburg and Wily Peralta find themselves on the major league roster, the experience they'll earn in the next two months could make them effective players come next April. And with a few more talented young players on next year's roster, there's reason to believe the Brewers could push ahead in the NL Central. But keeping motivated in the dog days of the season is easier said than done. Make no mistake, the Brewers aren't likely to make the postseason no matter how determined Braun is to push them there himself. But by keeping their eyes on the prize this year, next year's goal won't seem nearly as lofty. Milwaukee isn't rebuilding. It's just waiting for its next move a move that could lead it to the 2013 postseason. Follow Ryan Kartje on Twitter.
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