MILWAUKEE — Prince Fielder peeled off his Brewers jersey, his season certainly over and maybe his career in Milwaukee, as well.
He was busy hugging his teammates and saying goodbye.
"I had to clear the throat once, but it was all right," Milwaukee's burly first baseman said Sunday night after the Brewers were beaten 12-6 and eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL championship series.
"I love these guys. I've been playing with most of them since I was 18," Fielder said. "So this organization has been great to me. Yeah, man, it's just been good. It's been real."
The Brewers won the opener of the series but couldn't maintain that level, dropping the final two games and losing the series 4-2.
They got another shaky outing from starter Shaun Marcum on Sunday, made three more errors, while Fielder and fellow star Ryan Braun combined to go 0 for 8.
Fielder will be one of the top free agents after the World Series ends. He hoped to be playing in that series, but instead will be heading home.
"We gave it all we've got. And that's all you can do," Fielder said. "After that, like I say, as long as I play as hard as I can, I'm able to sleep at night. That's it. Time to go play with the kids."
Asked if would be coming back, Fielder wasn't ready to tackle that subject.
"I'm not thinking about that quite yet. I'm just trying to say goodbye to my teammates. It's the offseason, you're not going to see them at 3 o'clock every day," he said.
Fielder envisioned the Brewers being in the franchise's first World Series since 1982 and called the season the easiest he'd ever had mentally.
"I'm not mad at all about this year because it is what it is. I think we played hard. Like I said, we had a great year as a team. Unfortunately we didn't get to where we wanted to go," he said. "But still some great moments and great memories in there. Like I said, this year has been awesome."
The Brewers were a major league-best 57-24 in their home park in winning their first division title since 1982, when Harvey's Wallbangers, featuring Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor, led them to the franchise's only World Series appearance. The result: a seven-game loss to the Cardinals.
A return trip nearly three decades later was in the offing and had a city riveted by the possibility.
After beating the Diamondbacks, the Brewers needed to get past the wild card Cardinals, who overcame a 10 1/2 game deficit on Aug. 25, overtook the Braves and then eliminated the pitching-rich Phillies in the division series.
But St. Louis won twice at Miller Park, including the clinching victory Sunday that included six homers, three from each team.
"St. Louis is hot. Did they do anything wrong during the series?" Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said.
"That's incredible to go through a series and have everything you do go right," Roenicke added. "That's what you have to have happen in the playoffs. You have to have breaks that you create because you're playing good, which they did. But they outplayed us. They're a good team and they outplayed us."
The 5-foot-11, 275-pound Fielder went 0 for 4 – finishing the NLCS just 4 for 20 with a pair of homers and three RBIs. He did get the fans out of their seats with a high drive to the center field wall in the third that Jon Jay pulled down.
And when he came to the plate for perhaps his last Milwaukee at-bat in the eighth, the fans gave him a loud ovation. And he got another rousing cheer after bouncing out and returning to the dugout.
"Regardless of what happens, everything he's accomplished here in six plus years, is incredible," Braun said. "He's one of the greatest players in franchise history, one of the best teammates in the league, a incredible competitor."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa even got Fielder's attention late in the game and tipped his cap to the Brewers' slugger and applauded him.
"I've watched him grow up, and he's grown up to where he's not only just a dangerous producer, but I've watched how he is part of the leadership of that club," La Russa said.
St. Louis should be appreciative of Fielder, too. His homer helped the National League win this year's All-Star game, securing home field advantage for the Cardinals against the Texas Rangers in the World Series that begins Wednesday night.
The Brewers' trouble in the field carried over for a second straight game.
After committing four errors in a Game 5 loss, they made three in the fifth inning – two by third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. on the same play when he couldn't handle a grounder and then made a flip with his glove that got past second baseman Rickie Weeks. The miscues led to a pair of unearned runs.
Roenicke wasted no time in removing Marcum, who'd struggled down the stretch and finished 0-3 in the postseason, with two losses in the NLCS.
Marcum lasted one inning, giving up four runs, including a three-run homer to series MVP David Freese, and got the hook in favor of lefty Chris Narveson.
Marcum said he wasn't tired.
"It definitely didn't play a role in that. The body felt great. The arm felt great. No, it's just location on pitches," he said. "That's all it comes down to. If you make pitches, keep the ball down low in the zone, it's hard for them to hit it out of the ballpark."
Narveson didn't exactly fool the Cardinals, either. He made it through 1 2-3 innings and gave up two more homers, solo shots to Rafael Furcal and Albert Pujols.
Milwaukee, buoyed by its towel-waving home crowd, rallied behind homers from Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy, pulling to 5-4.
But pinch-hitter Allen Craig greeted LaTroy Hawkins with a two-run single in the third and suddenly the Cardinals were up 9-4.