But then an odd thing happened.
Sabathia missed with a pitch and then Myers barely touched the end of his bat to a slider, pushing a soft foul toward the Phillies' first base dugout. The crowd cheered him for getting a bat on the ball, nothing more. But when Sabathia put the next pitch into the dirt and Myers dug his spikes and jammed his helmet again, the cheer that followed was a real one, a cheer meant to rattle Sabathia and, hey, if Myers was going to tangle with the supposedly untouchable Milwaukee starter, he would have some friends with him.
Far more than for what he did on the mound last night - and it was a very good performance in the Phils' 5-2 playoff win over Milwaukee - Brett Myers entered team lore for this second-inning at-bat. Sabathia joined it, too, nestling in alongside Burt Hooton in the pantheon of opposing pitchers who came undone in a pressure moment.
Myers fouled off another pitch (bigger cheer), took another ball in the dirt (huge cheer), fouled off yet another pitch (enormous cheer), and then took a low ball four (deafening cheer) for a walk. Completely unnerved, Sabathia walked Jimmy Rollins on four pitches to load the bases and then hung a two-strike slider to Shane Victorino that landed in the left-field stands along with whatever hope the Brewers still had of winning this series.
"I know I'm a terrible hitter. . . . I really can't explain it," Myers said of his at-bat. "Baseball's weird like that, to where you have a guy who pretty much can't hit a lick [can] go up there and battle a guy that's as good as CC."
It would be too much to say Myers' at-bat was the entire key to the win, which sends the Phils to Milwaukee with a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-five series. Victorino gets a big piece of it, obviously, and so does manager Charlie Manuel, who juggled his lineup to move Victorino higher in the batting order.
But on a night when the Phillies were going to have to climb the wall of Sabathia's reputation, it was Myers who helped build the stairs. Sabathia had already given up the tying run on doubles by Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz, but he might have settled down if that's as far as the inning had gone. If Myers didn't bulldog his way into that nine-pitch at-bat, maybe the rest never happens.
"He was definitely frustrated. You could see it in his demeanor," Greg Dobbs said of Sabathia. "It was getting to him."
Myers didn't stop there, either, when it came to annoying Sabathia. He had a 10-pitch at-bat in the fourth inning, fouling off four two-strike pitches in that one, before flying out to center field and getting a standing ovation. Sabathia was just about done at that point and didn't survive the inning. He left having thrown 98 pitches, 19 of which - about one of every five - were thrown to Brett Myers, one of the worst-hitting pitchers in the league.
"I wasn't trying to be a hero in that situation; I was just trying to work him," Myers said. "We were trying to get his pitch count up, because he's been so dominant over the course of the season. . . . You just try to get him out of there as quick as possible."
On the mound, where he makes his money, Myers gave up just two hits in seven innings and allowed two runs. He didn't have strikeout stuff, but the Brewers couldn't get the ball out of the infield against him. Milwaukee didn't have a hit between the first and the seventh innings. The only baserunner came when Myers hit Corey Hart with a pitch in the fourth inning. Otherwise, there was only silence from the Brewers' lineup, which seemed so disheartened by Sabathia's demise there wasn't much fight left.
Myers might be proudest of the pitching, and that's understandable. On this night, he outdueled the guy with the sharpest sword in the league this season.
But the first at-bat is what will be remembered down the years. In legend, he will foul off a dozen pitches and glare at Sabathia and maybe even hit the home run. That will be the legend.
In this case, though, the truth is every bit as good.
Contact columnist Bob Ford at 215-854-5842 or email@example.com.
Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/bobford.