MILWAUKEE -- Chase Anderson squared for a squeeze bunt -- a phrase you don't often see associated with manager Craig Counsell's Brewers -- and missed. Of the many pivotal moments in a sometimes sloppy, sometimes entertaining game Saturday, this was the one that may have hurt most.
Anderson and outfielder Keon Broxton each took the blame after a botched safety squeeze in the fifth inning of a tie game contributed to a 4-1 loss to the Cardinals at Miller Park.
"I feel bad about letting Keon hang out to dry," Anderson said. "If I get that bunt down, that changes the game right there."
The Brewers and Cardinals were tied, 1-1, when Broxton singled leading off the fifth, snapping Lance Lynn's streak of 11 batters retired. After Orlando Arcia struck out, Broxton broke for second base on Lynn's strike 2 pitch to Anderson and stole the bag, then kept going when catcher Yadier Molina's throw bounced into center field.
With two strikes, Anderson walked down to third base coach Ed Sedar to make sure he had the signs right. Counsell indeed was calling for a safety squeeze.
"We're just trying to get a run," Counsell said. "A good bunt scores a fast runner."
Even though Anderson was in a tough spot to bunt with two strikes and a tough sinkerballer on the mound, Counsell felt the odds favored his pitcher executing a bunt versus getting a hit. Since it was a safety squeeze, Broxton was supposed to wait for Anderson to put the ball in play before breaking home.
Worst-case scenario, Anderson doesn't get it down and the Brewers have a runner on third with two outs for leadoff man Jonathan Villar.
As it turned out, that was not the worst-case scenario. Anderson whiffed at a sinker in the bottom half of the strike zone and Molina made a snap throw to third, catching Broxton off the bag. Broxton was out after a long rundown, and Lynn suddenly was out of a jam. The tie persisted until the seventh, when Cardinals pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz greeted Brewers reliever Carlos Torres with a pinch-hit home run.
"It was a great play at the time," Broxton said. "We just didn't execute. The ball got past Chase, and the ball was out of Yadi's hand so quick, the only thing I could really do is go home, get in a pickle and hope for a bad throw or something like that. Execute it right, it's a great play, I score easily, and it's a different ballgame."
On the mound, Anderson was terrific. He pitched six innings on 89 pitches, holding the Cardinals to one unearned run on six hits and lowering his ERA for the season to 1.13.
But he didn't talk much about that; Anderson spoke mostly about the missed bunt.
"If I get the bunt down, I think that changes the perception of the game and I'm out there for the seventh inning and we continue rolling," Anderson said.