It’s been 221 days since the Brewers celebrated a Game 163 victory — and their first NL Central title since 2011 — at Wrigley Field last October. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a player in their clubhouse who spent the last seven months marking days off the calendar.
After all, the 2019 campaign is a new season with new expectations.
“As a team it was a fun year last year, we accomplished a lot, but we also need to turn the page as well,” said veteran outfielder Lorenzo Cain. “Going into this year, we've got new goals in mind, new things in mind that we want to accomplish. That's what we're trying to go out there and do, go out and create some new memories this year.”
Even fourth-year manager Craig Counsell was quick to turn the page on what was arguably the most seminal moment of his coaching career, joking that it ranked behind walking into the modernized road clubhouses at Wrigley Field.
“It was a big moment for the organization, that's what I would say,” Counsell said. “It was a big day for our fans and that's what makes you remember that day the most.”
But winning that game or not, he believes expectations for the Brewers would have been the same regardless of the one-game playoff outcome.
Infielder Mike Moustakas did note that playing the Oct. 1 game may have been beneficial for a young team, as it allowed for some postseason experience before the true elimination setting took place.
“Last year we went on an incredible run to even have an opportunity to get there but I think the one thing it did to for us was calm this team's nerves down as far as in the postseason now,” said Moustakas, who claimed a World Series title in 2015 with the Royals and knows the importance of experience in October. “When you play an all-or-nothing game like that or in the Wild Card, it kind of takes all the emotions out of you and drains you of all that stuff so you just go out there and play ball again. So I think that's what helped us.”
Six weeks into 2019, this season’s team seems to have picked up right where it left off last year. The Brewers showed up to Wrigley Field Friday having won six straight games and just a game back of the equally hot Cubs in the NL Central standings.
Milwaukee is 10-6 in the NL Central, even with only a +2 run differential. Despite being in a division with four teams at .500 or better, the Brewers seem to relish the opportunities to play divisional foes.
“It means a lot to the standings when you play a division opponent,” Cain said. “You know if you beat them they can only go one way. It's a lot of fun playing division guys.
“You try to treat every game the same, whether it's April or September. A lot more is put on later on in the season when you need the game really bad but you gotta try to treat every game the same because you never know when you might need that game. Every game counts, every game is huge. It's always a little more special when you play divisional opponents, especially the Cubs. Every time we're at Wrigley Field, it feels more like a playoff game.”Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.