ST. LOUIS -- On Wednesday, there was a celebration.On Thursday, some well-earned rest.And come Friday?"There's work to do," said Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress, who recorded the final four outs -- the first harrowing, the final three a breeze -- of Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium that ensured
ST. LOUIS -- On Wednesday, there was a celebration.
On Thursday, some well-earned rest.
And come Friday?
"There's work to do," said Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress, who recorded the final four outs -- the first harrowing, the final three a breeze -- of Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium that ensured Milwaukee a spot in the postseason.
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At worst, the Brewers will host the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night.
But the big prize is still in play: The NL Central crown. The Brewers remained a half-game behind the Cubs after Chicago beat the Pirates in 10 innings on Wednesday.
The Cubs have four games remaining -- one more against the Pirates on Thursday (who are starting Brewer-killer Trevor Williams), then three against the Cardinals, who were clinging to their own postseason hopes Wednesday night.
"We've got work to do still in the regular season," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "But we have to celebrate for a night."
Added Jeffress: "We're not stopping. The season's not over yet. We're going to go home and play like we're going to win the division."
It does not take an expert to see the benefit of avoiding the winner-take-all Wild Card Game, especially for a team like the Brewers driven by a stout bullpen. The winner would then go on the road to begin a best-of-five NL Division Series, with Game 1 scheduled for Thursday and Game 2 the next night.
The division winner would benefit from the extra rest.
"For me, it's all about winning the division," Lorenzo Cain said. "I don't really like playing winner-take-all-type games. Winning the division is our main focus. We understand the Cubs are a really good team and we have to play Detroit and get after it. We have to find a way to play consistent baseball, to score some runs, play some solid defense and do what we've been doing all year."
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At some point, club officials will have to start planning for the potential of a Wild Card Game, but they were pushing that to Thursday or Friday in hopes that their path became more clear. As of Wednesday, there were too many possibilities to ponder, including a home game against the Rockies, Dodgers or Cardinals, or sitting back and watching that contest unfold on television.
Cain knows both paths, since he and Mike Moustakas played for the Royals against Stephen Vogt and the A's in the 2014 American League Wild Card Game, an extra-inning classic won by Kansas City. Erik Kratz was also on that Royals team. Joakim Soria ('15 Pirates), Jonathan Schoop ('16 Orioles) and Curtis Granderson ('16 Mets) also experienced Wild Card Games.
Considering what remains at stake, some wondered whether the Brewers' celebration might be a bit muted when they clinched merely a postseason spot.
It was most definitely not.
"It's never muted," Kratz said. "You never know when this is going to be your last chance. We played 159 games to get to this point. If it's muted, then you've been to it a lot of times. We're celebrating the first 159 games. We've got three more to go."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.