The Milwaukee Brewers acquired CC Sabathia earlier this month with hopes of ending their 25-year playoff drought. Though they’re still a long way away from accomplishing that feat, they have to like the early returns on the move.
Sabathia looks to win his fourth straight start since the trade as the Brewers go for their seventh straight win Wednesday night against the NL Central rival St. Louis Cardinals.
Milwaukee (57-43) sent four prospects to Cleveland on July 7 in exchange for Sabathia, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said the trade was a clear indication of his playoff expectations for the team, which hasn’t made the postseason since 1982.
“I’d say we’re going for it,” Melvin said. “That’s the way I look at it.”
Thanks in part to Sabathia (3-0, 1.88 ERA), the Brewers appear to be in solid position to end that playoff drought. The 6-foot-7 left-hander has 24 strikeouts in 24 innings in his first three starts with Milwaukee—all wins. He held San Francisco to four hits while striking out 10 in a 9-1 victory Friday, his second consecutive complete game.
“I can’t say I feel like a Cy Young winner, but I feel good,” Sabathia said. “I wasn’t worried what the starts would be like. I was worried about how I’d get along with the guys in the clubhouse. That’s been the easy part. It’s been relaxing.”
The Brewers hope Sabathia can continue his smooth transition to the NL as they try to win seven straight games for the first time since April 28-May 5, 2005.
Milwaukee kept its current streak alive by overcoming an early 3-0 deficit and getting a game-winning home run from Bill Hall in the ninth inning to steal a 4-3 victory Tuesday night. It was the second consecutive game Hall has snapped a late-inning tie with a home run—he hit a 10th-inning homer in Milwaukee’s 6-3 win in the series opener Monday night.
“Big home run two nights in a row. He’s been coming through,” said Brewers manager Ned Yost, whose club has pulled one game ahead of the Cardinals (57-45) for second place in the division—one game behind the Chicago Cubs. “Everybody wants those kind of at-bats, that’s the mark of a good club.”
Hall’s late heroics have added to the frustrations of the Cardinals’ beleaguered bullpen, which has absorbed four of the team’s last five losses. St. Louis relievers have 22 losses, tied for most in the majors.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, however, isn’t putting the blame solely on his relievers.
“Do you think the bullpen lost this game?” he said. “Do you think the bullpen lost it yesterday? How many runs did we score? It ain’t the bullpen, our team got beat.”
The Cardinals will try to bounce back by handing the ball to Braden Looper (9-7, 4.60). The right-hander gave up six runs in three innings of St. Louis’ 11-7 win over San Diego on Friday, and is 0-2 with a 6.52 ERA in his last four starts.
Looper is 4-5 with a 4.76 ERA in 31 career games against the Brewers, including 2-3 with a 6.33 ERA in five starts.
Sabathia held the Cardinals to one run in eight innings to win his last start against them June 27, 2006 - his only appearance against St. Louis since his 2001 rookie season.