© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/09/08 1:39 AM ET
Energy runs high for Sabathia victory
Southpaw goes six innings for first win in National League
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- You've got to hand it to Brewers manager Ned Yost, who has "just another day" down to a sweet science. Someone asked the skipper on Tuesday afternoon whether he sensed a buzz around Milwaukee in the hours before the debut of left-hander CC Sabathia, the Brewers' biggest midseason acquisition since Don Sutton brought his Hall of Fame curveball to County Stadium for a pennant race in 1982. Yost's quick answer: No. "I don't listen to the radio and I haven't seen anybody," Yost said. "And my wife wasn't that excited. So the buzz was about the same as every day for me." If he didn't feel it a few hours later, Yost needed to check his senses. A sellout crowd packed Miller Park for a night of Sabathiamania, complete with signs reading "CC you in October" and a handful of standing ovations before Sabathia threw his first Brewers pitch. The big left-hander didn't dominate, but he certainly didn't disappoint. He worked six innings and allowed two earned runs in a 7-3 win over the Rockies in front of 42,533 fans, the 16th Miller Park sellout this season. Left fielder Ryan Braun hit a three-run home run off losing pitcher Mark Redman (2-4) to give Sabathia an early lead and three Brewers relievers made it stand including David Riske, Sabathia's close friend and old Indians teammate. Making his Brewers debut a day after the blockbuster trade that sent him from Cleveland to Milwaukee, Sabathia worked six innings and allowed three runs, two of them earned, on five hits. He struck out five but also matched a season high with five walks and admitted that the whirlwind events of the previous 48 hours played a role. "I had a bunch of emotions going through my head," Sabathia said. "Just from the fans, the electricity that they brought to the stadium. It got me a little too excited. I rushed through my bullpen because I was just ready to get to the game, get things going. That was the reason you saw me be so erratic today." Erratic, but effective. Perhaps a bit lucky, too. Sabathia took a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning and caught a break when Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs suffered an injury that appeared to prevent him from scoring the tying run. Spilborghs had drawn the second of two straight Sabathia walks as Colorado loaded the bases with no outs before catcher Yorvit Torrealba deposited a double into the right-field corner. Spilborghs broke from first base, but grabbed his side near second base and trotted into third. He left the game with a left oblique injury and will be placed on the disabled list on Wednesday.
"I felt like I got shot between first and second," Spilborghs said. "I was looking for someone to tag so they could keep running for me, maybe pass the baton or something. That was miserable. I think it hurt more that I couldn't score and get the game tied."
Yost did not believe that even a healthy Spilborghs could have scored, but he was in a one-man minority.
"Definitely," said Brewers third baseman Bill Hall, who hit a two-run single for insurance in the seventh. "He probably could have walked home.
"Unfortunate for him, but it was fortunate for us at the time," Hall said. "Who knows how the game would have turned out if he would have scored and it's a tie ballgame?"
It became doubly fortuitous for the Brewers when the next batter, Jayson Nix, hit a low line drive that Sabathia snagged. The 6-foot-7 pitcher lobbed the ball to Hall at third base to easily double up pinch-runner Scott Podsednik.
"[An] accident," Sabathia said.
"That was a big play," Yost said. "He was nimble like a cat out there, snatched it and turned two. That was a big break for us."
Sabathia then struck out pinch-hitter Brad Hawpe to end the inning.
He screamed a few words into his glove as he walked off the mound with a 4-3 lead intact.
"That was just letting out everything from the past couple of days," Sabathia said. "The anticipation of getting out there on the mound, and being frustrated with the five walks and not really throwing the ball where I wanted to. It was kind of relief. You'll see that from me from time to time."
Yost went to his bullpen after the sixth. Riske, who said he was "as nervous as I've been in a long time," worked a scoreless seventh inning, Eric Gagne pitched the eighth and Brian Shouse the ninth.
Sabathia threw 97 pitches and could have thrown more, but Yost figured that, given the emotion of the day, his new co-ace had done enough.
Once he gets to know Yost a bit better, perhaps Sabathia will ask for another inning.
"Maybe in a couple of weeks, I'll be lobbying to go back out," Sabathia said.
It marked his first start since June 5 in which he didn't pitch at least seven innings, but it was good enough. Braun's 22nd home run, off career Brewer-killer Redman (6-2, 2.49 ERA in nine previous starts) gave the Brewers a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Prince Fielder drove in a run with a groundout in the third and Milwaukee tacked on three more runs in the seventh.
"Everybody came out today with a little bit of nervous excitement," Braun said. "It was like Opening Day."
The Brewers pushed back to 10 games over .500 at 50-40. They already were the hottest team in the National League since May 20 before Sabathia's arrival. As Yost sees it, they were a good team that just got better.
"This team is on a roll," Sabathia said. "I just want to come in and fit in."
His next start will come on Sunday in the finale of the first half, and Sabathia will then start the Brewers' second-half opener on July 18 in San Francisco. Yost also made the Opening Day comparison, and was among the Brewers happy to have Sabathia's debut in the books.
"It will definitely get easier from here," catcher Jason Kendall said.
Before the game, Yost eventually did fess up. After saying that Tuesday was just another day, he admitted he "lied a little bit." Instead of leaving the usual one ticket for his wife, Deb, he had to leave a foursome.
"So there must be a bigger buzz," Yost said with a smile. "You know what? It's an understatement to say that this is a big move. Because this makes a statement of what we're trying to accomplish as an organization."
|"I had a bunch of emotions going through my head. Just from the fans, the electricity that they brought to the stadium. It got me a little too excited. I rushed through my bullpen because I was just ready to get to the game, get things going. That was the reason you saw me be so erratic today."|
|-- CC Sabathia on his Brewers debut|
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.