MILWAUKEE (AP)—At the very least, the San Diego Padres will still be playing come Monday.
And while they came close for the first time in a long time, the Milwaukee Brewers will be bystanders for yet another October.
The Padres beat the Brewers 6-3 on Friday, assuring themselves of no worse than a tie for the NL wild card and eliminating Milwaukee from the postseason.
San Diego holds a two-game lead in the wild-card race over Colorado and New York with two games left. The Padres trail Arizona by one game in the NL West.
With so many teams left in contention, Greg Maddux (14-11) enjoyed pondering all the playoff scenarios.
“It’s fun to talk about it, you know,” said Maddux, who got his 347th win. “I mean, we could go to New York, Philly, Chicago or play at home. I guess we can’t go to Arizona or Colorado. Or, we can have a one-game playoff anywhere, really, on Monday.”
On the other side of the ballpark, the fun suddenly evaporated from Milwaukee’s clubhouse.
“We didn’t do what we needed to do,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
Milwaukee entered two games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs. But the Brewers’ loss, coupled with the Cubs’ 6-0 victory at Cincinnati, sealed their fate.
Despite the promise of a hot start in April and a big division lead in June, Milwaukee missed the playoffs once again.
Yost said his young team met its goal of playing meaningful games in late September for the first time in a long time. And that experience, Yost said, will be invaluable come next year.
“Our kids gave their very, very best effort to see that happen,” Yost said. “They just fell a little short.”
Prince Fielder, the most prominent of the Brewers’ young core, struggled to turn his thoughts from a disappointing present to a promising future.
“Nah,” Fielder said, briefly looking up and shaking his head. “Not right now.”
Milwaukee held an 8 1/2 -game lead after beating Kansas City on June 23 but slumped in the second half. Several starting pitchers went into prolonged slumps, Ben Sheets got hurt again, and the bullpen wasn’t good enough.
Yost said the team still had one goal to shoot for: By winning one of their last two games, the Brewers would secure their first winning record since 1992.
“The .500 thing is irrelevant,” center fielder Bill Hall said. “I’d rather be in the playoffs with a sub-.500 record.”
After the Padres broke a 3-3 tie on Khalil Greene’s RBI double off Claudio Vargas (11-6) in the sixth, the Brewers had a chance to come back in the bottom half when they loaded the bases with one out off reliever Joe Thatcher.
“Cla probably had the pitch of the night when he got the double play,” Maddux said.
Greene added a two-run homer in the eighth, his 26th of the season.
“We’ve been a kind of middle-of-the-road team, but we’ve continued to play hard and try to win games that we keep close,” Greene said. “We’ve been able to do that, I think, more often than not here lately.”
With his team’s playoff possibilities erased, Yost retained at least some semblance of a sense of humor.
“I was glad to make it through a game without getting thrown out,” said Yost, who had been ejected from or suspended for four of the Brewers’ previous five games. “It’s been fun. It’s been intense.”
Chris Capuano gave up three runs and five hits in five innings. The Brewers have lost the last 22 games Capuano has appeared in, a stretch that includes 18 starts and four relief appearances. Capuano was banished to the bullpen in mid-August but recently returned to the rotation after No. 1 starter Ben Sheets injured his left hamstring. … The commissioner’s office revoked the three-game suspension assessed to RHP Seth McClung Thursday. The reliever and Yost were ejected Wednesday night after Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals was hit during a 7-3 loss. … Maddux was picked off first base by Capuano in the third despite taking only a two-step lead off first base. … Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks hit RHP Yovani Gallardo in the back with a line drive during batting practice. Gallardo eventually walked off the field, accompanied a member of the training staff. … Sheets, who might be available for bullpen duty, warmed up in the sixth.