Baseball: The Phillies Corner the Brewers & Sabathia

by Suzie Raven

No one doubts Milwaukee Brewers' pitching ace C.C. Sabathia’s power on the mound. The lefty, with his amazing 2.70 ERA this season, helped bring the Brewers to the playoffs and became the focus of their postseason hopes.

They wanted him to pitch as often as possible in the five-game Division Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. They planned to use him in Game 2 on Thursday night and again in Game 5, if necessary. Assuming he won both times, the Brewers would only need to win one other game to move on to the next round.

Theoretically, it made perfect sense. Sabathia represents the best chance the Brewers have against the Phillies' explosive offensive. The Brewers relied even more heavily on Sabathia after Brian Sheets, their next best pitcher, was injured.

There’s one major hole in the theory. In his last three starts, Sabathia pitched on only three days rest instead of four, and by Thursday night, he fell apart.

Nothing in his 3 2/3 innings was pretty. He allowed six hits, all for extra bases, that allowed the Phillies to score five runs. One was a grand slam for center fielder Shane Victorino.

With a final score of 5-2 in favor of the Phillies, the Brewers fell behind 2-0 in the series. It’s hardly likely the Brewers will win the next three games, but still technically possible. After all, the 1982 Brewers were the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to come back from a two game deficit to win a best-of-five game series in the post-season.

Yes, Sabathia is great, but he isn’t perfect, especially when he keeps starting on such little rest. By wearing out their ace, the Brewers opened the door for the Phillies to win the series. Now they just have to walk through it.

(For more background on baseball's postseason, please see: "Baseball: Brewers, Rays Lead Small Market Revolt." The Brewers host the Phillies in Milwaukee tomorrow, Oct. 4 in the third game of their series.)

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