Godley has roller-coaster Brewers debut

Righty labors through three-plus innings, lands on IL after game

April 29th, 2021

A tough call sent Zack Godley’s Brewers debut heading in the wrong direction. A tough break meant it may be a while before he gets another chance. 

A controversial obstruction call gave the Marlins a head start in sending the Brewers to a 6-2 loss at American Family Field on Wednesday as Milwaukee’s injury issues continued to mount. Godley bruised his right index finger while bunting, and he was placed on the 10-day injured list in favor of left-hander Eric Lauer, who will start Thursday in the opener of a four-game series against the World Series champion Dodgers.

Godley’s day went awry almost from the start. The Marlins' first run came on a second-inning dribbler down the first-base line from Miami second baseman Isan Díaz, which scored left fielder Corey Dickerson. Godley threw to Milwaukee first baseman Daniel Vogelbach for what should’ve been the second out in the inning, and with Miami catcher Chad Wallach striking out in the next at-bat, that would’ve been all the damage done.

However, first-base umpire Marty Foster saw things much differently. From Foster’s view, Godley impeded Díaz’s path to first, and Godley was called for obstruction.

“A player without a ball, without making a play on a ball, is standing in the basepath of the runner, impeding and hindering him. And [Díaz] actually makes a jog to the right to get out of his way, to get out of Godley’s way. That’s clear-cut obstruction,” Foster said on a Zoom call to discuss the play. “It doesn’t have to be contact. It just has to hinder or obstruct, and that’s what happened.”

Two wild pitches later, the Marlins scored their second run of the inning to put the Brewers in an early 2-0 hole. The controversial call highlighted a bumpy season debut for Godley, who took the loss as Milwaukee dropped the series finale.

"It was a terrible call,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I have no idea what Marty was trying to make up there, what he saw. It's even worse, looking at the replay, than I thought he might have seen. Bad call."

And from the Brewers’ perspective, it was a big call. They briefly tied the game at 2-2 in the third inning on Kolten Wong’s two-run homer, but former Brewer Jesús Aguilar capped a big series with a three-run shot in the fourth off Godley’s injury replacement, Eric Yardley.

“I mean, it shouldn't have been called,” Wong said. “It didn't make any sense. It's just one of those things where a play like that definitely changed the game.”

By the time Counsell removed Godley from the game in the fourth inning, Godley might’ve already gotten “pitcher’s bingo.”

In the bottom of the third, Godley managed to lay down the bunt on a sinker up and in, but he took the pitch off the finger and was removed after allowing the first two batters to reach base in the next frame.

“It’s not broken, which is good,” said Godley. “It’s bruised up pretty good, so just take it day by day and see how it goes. Just maybe play catch in a day here or so and see what kind of feeling’s there and what kind of swelling’s in it and whatnot.”

It was a tough ending to an interesting day in Godley’s first regular-season appearance since Sept. 4. In addition to the obstruction call (for which he was charged with an error) and the wild pitches, his final line consisted of four runs (three earned) on one hit and five walks over three-plus innings, with five strikeouts. He also balked while pitching to Wallach in the fourth before clipping his elbow, which ended Godley’s day.

Godley took the bump for Milwaukee in the first start of the season for a pitcher not in the club’s main rotation. No. 4 starter Brett Anderson remains on the injured list after being removed from his start against the Cubs on Friday due to a right leg injury, and Counsell suggested before Wednesday’s game that Anderson could miss a couple of turns through the rotation.

After being signed to a Minor League contract late in Spring Training and only getting a few simulated games under his belt, Godley was selected from the alternate training site and brought in to eat innings while Anderson is on the shelf. Time will now tell if Godley remains in the Brewers’ plans moving forward.

“These cats have done an amazing job here this year,” Godley said. “That’s a credit to the pitchers themselves as well as the stuff going on behind the scenes. I’m really hoping that this [injury] doesn’t affect me too much, and I can continue to try to help this team win ballgames -- whether it’s to start or any other way that I possibly can.”