Brewers 8, Mets 4: In final home game of regular season, Brewers clinch their third NL Central crown

Tom Haudricourt
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The final home game of the 2021 regular season was a truly memorable one for the Milwaukee Brewers and their fans.

Actually, the entire weekend was special in many ways.

Taking care of their own business and forgetting about the never-lose St. Louis Cardinals, the Brewers toppled the New York Mets, 8-4, Sunday afternoon to clinch the NL Central crown with a sellout crowd of 43,430 watching at American Family Field.

Yes, the Cardinals did win again, sweeping the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field for their franchise-record 16th consecutive victory, but it did not matter. St. Louis will be relegated to the second wild-card berth while the Brewers prepare for the NL Division Series after winning the NL Central for the third time (also in 2011 and 2018).

BOX SCORE:Brewers 8, Mets 4

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The Brewers will have home-field advantage in the NLDS and play either Atlanta or Philadelphia. They finish their regular season with three games in St. Louis and three in Los Angeles. 

Brewers shortstop Willy Adames celebrates after the Brewers clinched the NL Central Division by beating the New York Mets at American Family Field.

Milwaukee entered the final 10-game home stand with a magic number of five but it got stuck on three for five days as they dropped the series finale to Chicago and were swept in four games by the Cardinals. They then took matters in their own hands, sweeping New York in three games to peel one game off the magic number each day.

With the crowd roaring on every pitch, closer Josh Hader sealed the deal for the Brewers in the ninth, retiring the side in order. When the final out was recorded by leftfielder Christian Yelich, the players poured into the middle of the infield, mobbing each other as confetti and streamers filled the air. 

Closer Josh Hader (71) is swarmed by teammates as the Milwaukee Brewers celebrate clinching the NL Central Division after beating the New York Mets at American Family Field on Sunday.

The day had all the makings of capping a special weekend in franchise history, assuming the Brewers won the game. On Friday, they inducted Carlos Gomez, Yovani Gallardo and Francisco Rodriguez into their Wall of Honor. On Saturday, the team celebrated legendary Bob Uecker's 50th anniversary with the club.

A full house showed up Sunday on Uecker talking bobblehead day, and Ryan Braun was feted before the game with an on-field retirement ceremony. That left it to the team to clinch the division and make it a final home weekend for the ages.

"With everything that was going on this weekend, the fact that it happened today worked out about as good as we could have hoped for," manager Craig Counsell said. "It was a special weekend here, a special weekend for Brewers fans. We gave them a great weekend.

"It's as good as it gets for a Brewers fan this weekend. A great weekend to be a Brewers fan."

As for managing to eliminate a team from the division race that has won 16 in a row, Counsell said, "A ton of credit to the Cardinals right now. They're doing amazing things. It's incredible what they're doing at this point in the season.

"We gave ourselves an opportunity to get it done today because we played a great series this weekend."

Not that it was easy. The game got off to a bit of a rocky start when, with one down in the top of the first, Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor got into a 3-2 fastball from Freddy Peralta and sent it out to right field for his 18th homer of the season.

That 1-0 lead was short-lived. Kolten Wong led off the bottom of the inning with a walk from Carlos Carrasco and Willy Adames followed with a long home run to left field, his second since returning from a quadriceps injury at the beginning of the week.

"We needed these wins," Adames said of sweeping the Mets and taking care of business at home. "That was big when we scored a couple of runs in the first inning after they scored. That was big for us as a team. I'm just happy to be part of this.

"We know we have to go to St. Louis now and continue to compete and win games and prepare for the playoffs now. It's impressive; (the Cardinals) have been playing such great baseball. You tip your cap to them. Hopefully, we will see them (down the road)."

Carrasco painted himself into a corner in the second inning by walking Wong and Adames with one down to load the bases. He paid for it when Yelich’s grounder to first sent home a run and Eduardo Escobar singled sharply to right, knocking in two more to put the Brewers on top, 5-1.

After cruising through the second and third innings, Peralta found quick trouble in the fourth. Michael Conforto led off with a single to center, Pete Alonso doubled to right and Javier Báez knocked them both in with a double to left.

With the score, 5-3, a runner on second and no outs, Peralta needed to dig in and he did. Jonathan Villar popped out, Jeff McNeil flied out to right, with Tyrone Taylor making a running catch in the gap, and Tomás Nido struck out to keep it a two-run game.

Peralta’s up-and-down game continued with a 1-2-3 fifth inning, then more issues in the sixth. With one down, Alonso walked and Báez singled to left, and that was all for the Brewers’ starter.

Lefty Brent Suter came on to strike out Villar but pinch-hitter Kevin Pillar blooped a single into shallow left to send home Alonso and make it a one-run game.

Looking to rebuild their cushion, the Brewers did exactly that with three runs in the bottom of the inning, getting a big helping hand from the Mets. With one down, pinch-hitter Daniel Vogelbach drew a walk off Jeurys Familia and Wong just missed a homer to center, banging a drive high off the wall to send pinch-runner Eric Lauer to third.

"I thought Kolten Wong had an incredible weekend," Counsell said. "Just the at-bats, and the pressure he put on, getting on base for those guys in the middle of the order was great."

Adames followed with a bouncer to third baseman Villar, who hesitated, looked home and then threw past first base as Lauer – running on contact – scored. With runners on second and third and one down, lefty Aaron Loup came on to retired Yelich on a popup to short.

Escobar hit a grounder into the hole at short that should have been the third out, but his one-hop throw to first eluded Alonso, allowing two runs to score and give the Brewers an 8-4 lead.

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In a very good sign for the Brewers’ bullpen, Devin Williams shook off a recent calf strain to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth inning. The Brewers weren’t sure at the time of the injury if Williams would have to go on the injured list but he looked fine in dispatching the Mets in order.

"We gave him some time and were conservative with it, and he was ready to go today," Counsell said. "All signs are good moving forward."

Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio, who followed tradition by celebrating with his team and spraying champagne in the clubhouse, said, "This weekend was so much wall-to-wall excitement and tension. It didn't really resonate to me until Craig Counsell told me if you love the Brewers, this is the most special weekend you could have."


Overall: 94-62

Home: 45-36

Away: 49-26


43,430 (sellout)


Monday: Off day.

Tuesday: Brewers at Cardinals, 6:45 p.m. Milwaukee RHP Brandon Woodruff (9-10, 2.52) vs. St. Louis RHP Adam Wainwright (16-7, 3.05). TV: Bally Sports Wisconsin. Radio: AM-620.

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