MILWAUKEE -- As the Brewers prepared for their first postseason series in 26 years, general manager Doug Melvin took a glance at the team's regular-season statistics. Three facts stood out.

No 14-game winners. No single reliever with 30 saves. No .300 hitters, at least among the regulars.

"How many 90-win teams can say that?" Melvin asked.

Since the introduction of the Wild Card in 1995, the answer is none. The Rays came closest in 2008, when James Shields and Edwin Jackson had 14 wins apiece but no player had 30 saves and no regular hit .300.

The '99 Mets also came close, with no 14-game winners and no 30-save man, but five .300 hitters. New York won the National League Wild Card that season.

So did the '08 Brewers, led by Ben Sheets' 13 wins, Salomon Torres' 28 saves and left fielder Ryan Braun's .285 average. They finished 90-72, crossing the 90-win threshold for the first time since the 1992 Brewers went 92-70 under Phil Garner.

Midseason pickup CC Sabathia certainly did his part in '08, notching 11 wins in only 17 starts after a July 7 trade from Cleveland. Torres would have almost certainly crossed the 30-saves barrier had he been handed ninth-inning duties from the start of the season instead of taking over from Eric Gagne in mid-May. And Braun may have hit .300 -- he was batting .301 as late as Sept. 8 -- if not for a back injury that affected his swing over the final six weeks of the regular season.

It was a team effort that carried the Brewers to the National League Wild Card and their first postseason games since the 1982 World Series. The Brewers took an unusual path to get there, charging to the front of the Wild Card pack with a 20-7 August but then slumping at the start of September.

A 3-11 start to the month cost manager Ned Yost his job, and the Brewers then lost four of their first five games under interim skipper Dale Sveum before getting hot over the final week to win a spot in October.

The euphoria was short-lived. The Brewers lost in the NL Division Series to the Phillies, three games to one, and were eliminated from postseason play.

2008 RECAP
Record: 90-72, second place in NL Central, NL Wild Card winner

Defining moment: There were plenty. The first was July 7, when the Brewers finalized the Sabathia deal. Then came Sept. 15, when the team replaced Yost with Sveum. Or, the Sept. 28 regular-season finale, in which Braun hit a go-ahead home run and Sabathia finished a complete-game win over the Cubs that put the Brewers into the postseason.

But the key turning point might have come Sept. 21 in Cincinnati. The Brewers woke up that Sunday morning trailing the Mets by 2 1/2 games in the NL Wild Card standings with only seven games to play, but beat the Reds behind solid performances by six pitchers and three RBIs from Prince Fielder, then retreated to the clubhouse and watched the Mets lose in Atlanta. The win propelled the Brewers to six victories in their final seven games and a spot in the postseason.

What went right: The Brewers lived and died by the home run all season, and they would never have made it to the playoffs without a few well-timed long balls. Fielder hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, Braun hit a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning two days later and then delivered a tie-breaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning of the regular-season finale.

The Sabathia deal also belongs in the "what went right" category. The Brewers knew they were getting the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, but no one could have predicted he would win NL Pitcher of the Month honors in July and August and work complete games in six of his first 11 starts.

2008 Brewers statistical leaders
Hitting
Pitching
Average: Ryan Braun, .285 Wins: Ben Sheets, 13
Doubles: Corey Hart, 45 Losses: Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan, 10
Triples: Braun, Rickie Weeks, 7 ERA (starter): CC Sabathia, 1.65
Home runs: Braun, 37 ERA (reliever, min. 10 appearances): Brian Shouse, 2.81
Runs: Braun, 92 Saves: Salomon Torres, 28
RBIs: Braun, 106
Stolen bases: Hart, 23

What went wrong: The Brewers' all-or-nothing offense tanked at the start of September and never recovered. The team hit .227 over the final month (opponents, for comparison, batted .261 against the Brewers) and then batted just .206 (26-for-126) in the postseason. Hitting with runners in scoring position presented a season-long problem; of the 16 NL teams, only the Reds (.240) fared poorer than the Brewers (.245) in clutch at-bats.

The Brewers' starting rotation also presented problems down the stretch. Ben Sheets suffered one of his many late-season injuries and contributed only 2 1/3 innings after Sept. 17. Young left-hander Manny Parra and veteran right-hander Jeff Suppan combined to go 0-5 in September with an 8.15 ERA, prompting Sveum to move Parra to the bullpen and twice push back Suppan's starts.

BREWERS TOP PERFORMANCES
4/26, MIL 4, FLA 3 -- Brewers flash leather
Corey Hart and Ryan Braun each make a diving catch to save an extra-base hit.
Highlights: Braun | Hart
5/8, MIL 4, STL 3 -- Walk-off courtesy of Weeks
Rickie Weeks strokes a two-out, bases loaded, walk-off single, his second of the season.
Highlights: Watch
5/20, MIL 7, PIT 2 -- Hot streak begins
Corey Hart homers in a Brewers victory that kicked off a red-hot streak for the Brewers that lasted into the break.
Highlights: Watch
6/15, MIL 4, MIN 2 -- Doing it for dad
With his father and kids in attendance on Father's Day, Mike Cameron hits the decisive homer.
Highlights: Watch
7/1, MIL 8, ARI 6 -- Hall's diving stab
Bill Hall makes a leaping dive at the line to rob an extra-base hit.
Highlights: Watch

Biggest surprise: General manger Doug Melvin believes that the formula for a winning team is avoiding massive injuries and finding at least one surprise contributor. He agreed that this season's biggest surprise may have been Torres, who was acquired to serve as a seventh- or eighth-inning option but was Milwaukee's closer by mid-May and helped save the team from disaster after Eric Gagne got off to a poor start. Torres' 8.53 ERA in September showed fatigue and skewed his season numbers, but he led the team in appearances (71) and relief innings (80), tied a career-high with seven wins and went 27-for-32 in save opportunities after taking over for Gagne. Before posting a 12.46 ERA over his final 10 outings, Torres' ERA was a solid 2.40.