Cecil Cooper shook his head. In one way, he felt beaten. In another way, he felt Baltimore.
"I could just sense our guys were not in the same frame of mind tonight as we were against the Orioles. The guys just weren't as loose," said the Milwaukee first baseman. "In my mind the Orioles were our main obstacle. That was an emotion-packed series. I figured a couple of days off and we'd be all right. Maybe I was wrong."
California's Tommy John had just sent the Milwaukee bats and spirits into the ground with a 12-ground ball, 8-3 victory over the Brewers in this opening game of the best-of-five American League championship series at Anaheim Stadium.
Cooper was not the only Milwaukee player to say that last week's do-or-doom series against Baltimore left the team with a hangover of fatigue that October's champagne can cause.
Milwaukee needed just one victory in four games to eliminate the ornery Orioles in the final series of the season. That didn't come until Sunday's fourth game, a 10-2 victory in Game 162.
Perhaps it was fitting that Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver and pitcher Jim Palmer were sitting in the television broadcast booth above the field tonight.
Physically, the Orioles aren't in these playoffs. Mentally, however, several Brewers admitted that they shared the first-base dugout with the Orioles tonight. The recent series was a strain on the Brewer psyche.
"We played four games in Baltimore before four pretty good crowds. Emotionally, maybe we didn't have a lot tonight," is how Milwaukee starter Mike Caldwell put it. Caldwell gave up seven hits and six runs and left after failing to get an out in the fourth tonight.
Shortstop Robin Yount said, "Mentally, we were not as up as we could have been. But that is no excuse."
Cooper added, "Before the last game of the Baltimore series, half of the guys got to the park before the team bus. You could see they were excited. Tonight, maybe six or eight guys got here before the bus. You figure it out."
Milwaukee had just seen the Angels score eight runs on 10 hits tonight. It was an offensive effort of the same magnitude as your everyday Milwaukee mauling.
Caldwell, who was 17-13 during this season, said of his effort, "I've watched Tommy John over the years and tried to learn from him. I just couldn't get an even tempo tonight. I couldn't get the pitches down."
"We just got whupped tonight," said center fielder Gorman Thomas, whose second-inning two-run homer gave Milwaukee a 2-1 lead.
The Brewers know about the tendencies of John. Jump him quick, they said, or jump out of his way.
"If you don't put him away early," said designated hitter Don Money, "forget it."
"Tonight, I could have just as easily been in St. Louis six years ago. Tommy is the same pitcher as he was with the Dodgers in the National League," said catcher Ted Simmons.
"He's a frustrating pitcher to face," said third baseman Paul Molitor. "Against him, you have so many of those comfortable 0-for-fours."
"Maybe one out of every 30 of his fast balls go where he doesn't want to," said Thomas.
The Brewers are still, of course, Harvey's Wallbangers. Even though they managed just three runs on seven hits tonight, these Brewers insist that it is not their backs that now bang the walls. Give them time, they say.
"We're certainly not scared of them," said Money. "Remember, one win and we're even, 1-1."
"We've got a good enough ballclub to win three in a row," said Rollie Fingers, the reliever who has been through enough playoffs to know that game one is not always followed by the same one.
"We're not out of this by any means," Fingers said.