The Milwaukee Brewers have had a penchant for dramatic postseason-clinching performances, and as they play the final week of the 2018 baseball season, they’ll no doubt be looking for something kinder on the blood pressure.
Milwaukee is knocking on the door of its fifth postseason berth in franchise history. Here are the other four occasions in which they secured a playoff spot:
1981: Half enough
A strike-shortened season created an unusual format, with first half and second half winners meeting in an unintended precursor to what we consider today the “divisional series.”
The Brewers won the second half, holding off Boston, Detroit and Baltimore in the home stretch thanks largely to series victories against all three teams in the final month of the season. The clincher was a 2-1 win over Detroit on the penultimate day of the season, when AL MVP Rollie Ringers picked up the win Oct. 3. In what would become a recurring motif, a rally in the eighth inning gave the Brewers the runs they needed, with Ted Simmons (groundout) and Groman Thomas (sacrifice fly) both producing RBI outs. Fingers recorded the final out of the eighth and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
The scene was a surreal one, with baseball fans not quite sure what to make of the odd format or the half-measure of getting into the playoffs, even if it was the first time the Brewers had advanced beyond the regular season.
Here’s a look at a big moment from the subsequent ALDS.
1982: Loss, loss, loss and then … Robin Yount
The Brewers only needed one win in the final four games of the 1982 season vs. the Baltimore Orioles to clinch the American League East with 95 wins. It almost didn’t happen.
Baltimore won the first three games in lopsided fashion, pulling into a tie with the Brewers for the divisional lead with one game left. But 1982 hero Don Sutton started the final game against fellow future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, and the Brewers scored in each of the first three innings to take a 3-0 lead. When the Brewers added five in the ninth, they had a 10-2 win on Oct. 3, 1982, earning a date with the Angels in the ALCS.
The star of the show was Robin Yount. He delivered a home run in the first, another in the third and also tripled to finish with 11 total bases (plus a hit-by-pitch). Cecil Cooper also drove in three runs.
The final out? Gary Roenicke, brother of Ron, who was the manager when the Brewers went to the postseason 29 years later.
Afterward, the Baltimore crowd stayed to celebrate Earl Weaver, the legendary manager who had previously announced 1982 would be his last season.
2008: You know how this one ends
On Sept. 28, 2008, the Brewers snapped a 26-year playoff drought thanks to two memorable performances: Ryan Braun’s eighth-inning home run against the Cubs that snapped a 1-1 tie and CC Sabathia’s complete-game victory. The game capped a thrilling final weekend, and the 3-1 win over the Cubs on the final day of the year helped the Brewers win the wild card. The final icing on the cake: the Mets losing to the Marlins, an outcome fans at Miller Park stayed to watch on the center-field video board.
2011: Braun goes deep in the eighth again
Ryan Braun has a knack for big homers in the eighth inning.
Three years after his 2008 performance, Braun went deep again — albeit with slightly lower stakes — for a three-run shot against the Marlins that snapped a 1-1 tie and gave the Brewers a 4-1 victory on Sept. 23. The win would be what it took to clinch the NL Central, and fans again stuck around to see the Cardinals (in a game started by ace Chris Carpenter, no less) fall and make it official.