Considering where they stood four weeks ago, the Milwaukee Brewers making the playoffs would be a historic achievement.
So would a win Friday night.The surging Brewers have a chance to match a 33-year-old franchise record for their longest home winning streak as they face the sliding New York Mets.Milwaukee's only losses in its last 19 games at Miller Park came to Philadelphia on Aug. 18 and 19. After that pair of defeats, the Brewers were 12 games under .500 and 12 1/2 back of the NL's second wild-card spot."I felt like we had dug a hole pretty deep that we weren't going to be able to get out of," first baseman Travis Ishikawa said Wednesday.Instead, Ishikawa's club has gone on an 18-5 tear to get in the thick of the playoff race. That run includes victories in all nine home games, one shy of the club record set July 8-29, 1979."It's pretty exciting in here right now, for all of us," Yovani Gallardo said after pitching Milwaukee to an 8-2 win over Atlanta on Wednesday. "We've just got to keep it up."The latest victory moved the Brewers (72-71) above .500 for the first time since April 12. It also gave them a three-game sweep of the wild card-leading Braves at Miller Park, where they've averaged 6.4 runs during the home win streak.Rickie Weeks is a big reason for the resurgence. A 2011 All-Star who hit .199 during the first half of this season, Weeks has batted .355 with five steals and 17 runs in his last 14 games. He has six homers and 11 RBIs over the past 11."He's been good for a long time now and this stretch has been really good and at a time when we really need him," manager Ron Roenicke said.Corey Hart has keyed Milwaukee's success at home, batting .365 in 25 games there since the All-Star break with eight homers and 25 RBIs. He didn't play in the Atlanta series due to a foot injury but hopes to return Friday, and Roenicke is optimistic he'll at least play this weekend.Carlos Gomez, the team leader with 32 steals, is day-to-day after leaving Wednesday with a bruised quad. Roenicke might not mind Gomez sitting out Friday considering he's struck out in all three at-bats against Jonathon Niese (10-9, 3.47 ERA), who starts for the Mets.Niese has had five straight quality starts but has lost the last three as the New York offense totaled three runs. He's 1-0 in three starts against Milwaukee despite an 8.10 ERA.Counterpart Mike Fiers (9-7, 3.05) also hasn't received much offensive help, getting no more than three runs of support in 13 of 18 starts. However, he's won three of four -- all on the road. In his last seven home outings, the right-hander is 4-2 with a 1.77 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings.This will be Fiers' first start against New York (65-78), and this might be a good time for it.The Mets are coming off an 0-6 homestand, totaling nine runs and batting .210 while matching their worst overall losing streak of the season. Their only longer one from the past eight years was a seven-game skid in April 2011.New York, tied atop the wild-card race as recently as July, has dropped 13 games under .500 for the first time since closing 2009 at 70-92."We set the bar pretty high in April and May," manager Terry Collins said. "Our club wasn't picked to be very good and we set the bar up there. ... Right now, we just cannot seem to recreate what happened in April."