Yost Defends Use of Sabathia

Ben Sheets hasn't pitched like an ace lately, and Milwaukee's offense doesn't seem to want to help him out either.

Inside pitch

After manager Ned Yost allowed left-hander CC Sabathia to throw 130 pitches Monday night against Houston for his fifth complete game in nine starts since coming from Cleveland, there was some speculation that the Brewers are going to "use up" Sabathia since they have little chance of keeping him as an upcoming free agent.

Yost scoffed at that speculation.

"Everybody gets in an uproar about 130 pitches," Yost said. "But you have to understand the anatomy of what's going on in the game. He's averaging 13.7 pitches per inning, which is the seventh lowest in baseball. Where guys get in trouble is with 20-, 25- and 30-pitch innings. CC has none of those."

Sabathia was at 111 pitches against Houston through eight innings when Yost sent him back to the mound with a 9-2 lead. Had shortstop J.J. Hardy not fumbled what could have been a game-ending double-play grounder, Sabathia would have escaped with 120 or so pitches.

"Never once did he labor," Yost said. "Where he labored was the Chicago game (124 pitches in 6 2/3 innings on July 28). Those are the starts that wear on you."

Yost noted that he is keeping his rotation in order in the upcoming weeks despite several off days that would allow him to squeeze another start out of Sabathia.

"There's no abuse going on," Yost said. "It's a plan that I'm looking at and put into play so that it not only takes care of our starters and gets them deep into games, but (helps) our bullpen, too."

Astros 5, Brewers 2

When the Brewers traded for Sabathia in early July, the thinking was that the 1-2 punch of Sabathia and Sheets atop the rotation would be tough to beat. Sabathia (8-0, 1.60) has held up his end of the bargain, but Sheets has struggled. By surrendering five runs in six innings to the Astros, he fell to 1-5 with a 4.06 ERA over his last eight starts.

Sheets paid for two bad pitches--a hanging curveball that Michael Bourn whacked for a two-run triple in the third inning and a "hit me" changeup in the sixth that Geoff Blum crushed for a three-run homer. The Brewers didn't help Sheets much at the plate, stranding nine runners and leaving the bases loaded twice.

Notes

--Left fielder Ryan Braun didn't play Tuesday after aggravating an intercostal strain during a sixth-inning strikeout the previous evening and leaving the game. The Brewers have an off day Thursday, and Yost said he might wait until Friday to see if Braun has recovered enough to play.

--Second baseman Rickie Weeks was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game, but Yost said Weeks' sprained left thumb was "much better." Weeks might return to action today.

--Sheets is 1-5 with a 4.06 ERA over his last eight starts, but he's not getting a lot of run support, either. The Brewers have scored two or fewer runs four times over that stretch and have totaled just 26 runs in the eight games.

--Outfielder Laynce Nix's pinch single in the sixth inning Tuesday snapped a string of 21 consecutive hitless at-bats in the majors dating to Sept. 1, 2006. Nix was summoned from the minors last week after getting just 12 at-bats in the majors last season.

--Right-hander Guillermo Mota has posted a 0.84 ERA (one run in 10 2/3 innings) over his last 11 appearances, including seven consecutive score


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