MILWAUKEE (AP)—CC Sabathia screamed and pumped his fist as he lumbered off the mound after striking out Brad Hawpe with a nasty 96 mph fastball to escape a sixth-inning jam with the lead.
Sabathia was a little wild on Tuesday night, but he still wound up a winner in his Milwaukee debut, giving up two earned runs and five hits in six innings as the Brewers beat the Colorado Rockies 7-3.
The sadness of being traded from his teammates in Cleveland, the excitement of joining the Brewers and sporadic control problems were a lot for Sabathia (1-0) to take in, and his emphatic celebration after the last out of the sixth inning was his way of letting it all out.
“It was just kind of a release,” Sabathia said. “You’ll see that from me from time to time—not much, but from time to time. I get riled up, I have to let it out.”
The reigning AL Cy Young winner walked five, tying the season high he set in April. Brewers manager Ned Yost chalked up Sabathia’s control problems to nervous energy, comparing Tuesday’s atmosphere to Opening Day.
“There are nerves,” Yost said. “There’s excitement. And it’s hard to keep yourself calm in these situations.”
Third baseman Bill Hall said teammates gave Sabathia a Brewers-style welcome after the game: a beer shower and a bear hug.
“That’s what we do when guys get their first win, first hit, big games,” Hall said. “Obviously, first win for him as a Brewer, so that’s our ritual. And Prince (Fielder) gives him a hug.”
Now Sabathia can settle into life with his new team. And it remains to be seen whether the tight end-sized left-hander can pair with incumbent ace Ben Sheets to power the Brewers past the Chicago Cubs—who delivered a quick counterpunch to Milwaukee’s trade for Sabathia by prying Rich Harden from Oakland in a trade Tuesday.
Sabathia and Yost said the Cubs weren’t their concern, at least not for now.
“The rest of the summer, these last 2 1/2 months, it’s going to make it really fun and interesting,” Yost said. “But does it affect us, or do we think about it on a daily basis? No.”
Ryan Braun, who hit his 22nd home run to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead in the first, saw the trade for Harden as the Cubs’ attempt to keep pace.
“I think they were probably looking to improve their team regardless,” Braun said. “But I think soon as they saw us get CC, they put the pedal to the metal and made sure they got something done. Obviously that improves their team and it’s going to be a fun race.”
Tuesday wasn’t much fun for the Rockies, who ran into a tough pitcher and some bad luck.
Yorvit Torrealba doubled down the right-field line, scoring Holliday and Atkins. Spilborghs appeared to have a chance to score the tying run, but instead came up limping at third with a strained left oblique and was taken out of the game.
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said Spilborghs would return to Colorado on Wednesday and would be placed on the disabled list.
“I think it took the wind out of us a little bit, because you see the tying run look like he got stabbed,” Hurdle said. “He did everything he could just to get to third. So that was a little deflating.”
Spilborghs said it felt like he was shot as he was rounding second.
“That was miserable,” Spilborghs said. “I think it hurt more that I couldn’t score and tie the game than the actual pain in my side.”
“Accident,” Sabathia joked.
After issuing another walk, Sabathia struck out Hawpe to end the inning. He was replaced by reliever David Riske—an old buddy from his Cleveland days—in the seventh, and the Brewers’ bullpen held on for the victory as Milwaukee added three runs in the seventh.
Yost said he wanted Sabathia to come away from his first game with his new team with a positive experience.
“I think he got pressing a bit, and just started fighting himself a little bit,” Yost said.
Did Sabathia lobby to stay in?
“I don’t know him that well,” Sabathia joked. “In a couple weeks, I’ll be lobbying to go back out.”
Rockies starter Mark Redman (2-4) gave up five hits and four runs in five innings.
Holliday extended his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games with an infield single in the sixth.
Hurdle said the team hadn’t decided on a roster move to replace Spilborghs. … Before the game, Colorado optioned OF Seth Smith to Triple-A Colorado Springs, purchased Nix’s contract and designated LHP Josh Newman for assignment. … Milwaukee signed RHP Seth Lintz, a second-round selection in the 2008 first-year player draft. The Brewers have signed 33 of the 54 players they drafted, including 19 of their first 20 selections.