After a weak showing in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, the Brewers were relying on their ace to help even the series before it shifted to Miller Park on Saturday.
But Sabathia, continuing his puzzling postseason pattern, allowed five runs, six hits and four walks over 3 2/3 IP, his shortest outing since April 11, when he still played for the Cleveland Indians. Sabathia, who also melted down twice against the Red Sox in the ALCS a season ago, has a 7.92 ERA in five career playoff appearances.
The Phillies got to him with a five-run second, which was set up in part by pitcher Brett Myers' tenacious at-bat that led to a walk, and keyed by Shane Victorino's grand slam. Sabathia finished with 98 pitches, so it shouldn't be a big deal for him to return for Game 5 — if the Brewers still are around.
That type of doubt is probably not what Doug Melvin wanted when the Crew's GM mortgaged part of his club's future by trading for Sabathia, who is expected to command anywhere between $100-$200 million on the free agent market this winter from a team other than Milwaukee.
Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts for the Brewers, who used him four times on three days of rest down the stretch in a desperate attempt to make the trade worth the sacrifice, reach the playoffs and, presumably, win there.
• The Brewers aren't hitting, either, scoring a total of three runs with seven hits in two games. Prince Fielder is 0-for-7 so far, grounding out as the potential tying run in his eighth-inning at-bat. It could be Cole Hamels and Myers, it could be the Brewers bats, it could be both.
• Myers, a .116 career hitter coming in, had two stupendous at-bats against Sabathia, including a nine-pitch walk in the second that whooped the Phillies crowd into a frenzy. Two batters later, Sabathia hung a breaking ball and Victorino lined it into the stands in left for a 5-1 lead. Myers later had another long at-bat and a single.
• Myers also pitched as he had before a recent slide, allowing a pair of runs on as many hits over seven innings. Myers and Hamels being on their games gives the Phils a huge advantage in any post-season series.
• The Brewers won't have Ben Sheets available for this or any other series in the postseason because of a torn muscle near his right elbow. Sheets, like Sabathia, is a free agent soon.