MILWAUKEE -- No guarantees how the rest of this ginormous weekend will go for the Brewers but, just hours after Ryan Braun's stunning walk-off grand slam against Pittsburgh, they were boosted by interim manager Dale Sveum's decision that Ben Sheets will start Saturday afternoon's game against the Cubs.
So count Sheets' status as having been upgraded from needing a "small miracle" to miracle occurred.
It was only Thursday when things were so pessimistic around Sheets that Sveum said it would take a "small miracle" for the right-hander who hasn't pitched for 10 days after leaving a game in Chicago with a sore elbow to actually appear in a game this weekend.
"He said he's feeling as good as he has in a month," Sveum said, noting that Sheets is "very optimistic."
Tied with the New York Mets for the NL wild-card lead, Milwaukee each game against the Cubs this weekend is must-win as the Brewers attempt to reach the postseason for the first time since 1982.
An effective Sheets could go a long way in making that happen. Sveum said the right-hander will pitch as long as he "is effective", meaning, the pitching-desperate Brewers now view him as healthy enough to not keep him on a short pitch count limit.
Sveum said that he has zero doubt about Sheets' readiness.
What convinced him?
"The look in his face," Sveum said. "The ability for him to look you straight in the face and say, 'I feel fine.' That's good enough for me."
The Brewers dodged another injury-related issue Friday as well when shortstop J.J. Hardy's sore left thumb checked out well enough for him to be listed in the starting lineup.
Hardy suffered a minor injury in -- get this -- the wild celebration following Braun's game-winning, ninth-inning home run Thursday. An internet report Thursday morning generated by a fan posting something on a blog caused a stir all over Milwaukee, with word that the Brewers may have lost their shortstop.
They haven't -- for now -- though the entire thing remains mysterious. Hardy says he has no idea how it happened.
"We were on the field jumping around, and I don't know what happened," Hardy said. "I was like, 'Ow, my thumb. What the hell was that?'"
Milwaukee trainers looked at it Thursday night and again Friday afternoon, and he had treatment on it. The other bizarre aspect was that Hardy said he made sure to stay on the perimeter of the celebration Thursday night.
"I was on my feet the whole time, and I was outside of the pile," Hardy said. "I'm kind of scared of those situations. When I was 13 or 14, I hit my first walk-off home run ever in Pony League, and I came in and jumped on home plate like everyone does and I sprained an ankle and was out for two weeks."