Crew drops home opener in return to play

August 4th, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- For and , it was a start. For the Brewers, it was a restart.

Albeit an unsatisfying one.

Anderson made a long-awaited Brewers debut and García celebrated his home debut by delivering his first three RBIs in a 6-4 loss to the White Sox in Milwaukee’s home opener on Monday. It was an event long in the making at Miller Park, after all three games of the Brewers’ weekend series against the Cardinals were postponed due to positive tests for COVID-19 within the St. Louis traveling party.

As a result, Anderson was pitching for the first time in eight days, and García and the Brewers were playing a baseball game for the first time in five days. It was shaping into a victory before José Abreu hit a regrettable pitch for a game-tying, two-run homer in the seventh inning, fired a wild pitch in the eighth that allowed the go-ahead run to score and surrendered a homer in the ninth to Yoán Moncada.

On a night when merely getting onto the field was a victory, the potent White Sox offense handed the Brewers a defeat.

“I feel like we’re starting over with our pitchers,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said earlier in the day. “[Especially] our relief pitchers, some of whom have one appearance in 10 days. We’ve got to be careful in every way and be sure we’re keeping the pulse of everybody as much as we can in this different environment.

“We’re doing our best. We’re certainly cognizant that everybody is having some different thoughts. It’s all right to be a little frayed right now.”

Anderson, whose three-inning, 52-pitch debut was delayed by a blister, then a weekend of postponements, took the odd schedule in stride. When reports emerged on Friday that the Cardinals-Brewers game was being postponed, Anderson tweeted, “Good to know.” When the same thing happened on Saturday, he quipped, “Once again good to know.” He was then scheduled to pitch one of the games of a Sunday doubleheader, but those were ultimately postponed, too. When asked Monday how he navigated the uncertainty, Anderson quipped, “Followed [MLB Network insider] Jon Heyman.”

While waiting to play a game, the Brewers lost for the season as he opted not to play, placed on the 10-day injured list with an infected index finger and worried for bench coach Pat Murphy after the fiery 61-year-old suffered a heart attack during a Brewers workout on Saturday at Miller Park.

Murphy was home recovering on Monday, when Anderson finally took the mound and saw his very first pitch smashed by White Sox leadoff man Luis Robert off Anderson’s foot for an infield hit. It was the first of five White Sox hits off Anderson, four of which stayed on the infield. The only exception was Moncada’s booming double which followed Robert’s leadoff hit, setting up Chicago to score on Abreu’s groundout and Yasmani Grandal’s sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

“It’s nice to have a routine,” Anderson said, “but the way 2020 is going, you kind of have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Anderson and Burnes combined to keep the White Sox in check while the Brewers claimed a lead. They got one run back in the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back, two-out doubles from (snapping an 0-for-19) and García (for his first Brewers RBI), then took the lead in the fifth when Yelich struck out looking with the bases loaded but García picked him up by bouncing a go-ahead, two-run single past Moncada at third base.

It was 4-2 in the seventh and Burnes had been cruising when the White Sox tied the game on Abreu’s two-out, two-run homer. In Burnes’ fourth inning of work, he fell into a 3-0 count against Abreu with first base open and Phelps ready in the bullpen. Two innings earlier, Burnes had struck out Abreu to end an 11-pitch battle. This time, Burnes split home plate with a high fastball and Abreu hit it over the center-field wall.

“That was definitely the decision point of the inning,” Counsell said. “I just thought Corbin had enough. Then when he fell behind, 3-0, a walk was a scenario. Not ideal, but just being careful to [Abreu]. We had to keep the ball in the ballpark there. … So, I think it’s one you look back on and maybe second-guess yourself, but I thought Corbin was throwing the ball beautifully, too.”

Phelps also lamented a mistake. After Nomar Mazara put runners at the corners with two outs with a soft hit against the Brewers' shift, just out of the reach of diving shortstop , Phelps pulled a fastball for a wild pitch that gave the White Sox a 5-4 lead.

“One or two pitches, if I hit my spots, and it’s a different inning,” Phelps said.

The White Sox, too, are facing challenges. Their starter on Monday, Carlos Rodón, coming back from Tommy John surgery, exited after two innings with a sore left shoulder. Six relievers combined to cover the final seven innings.

“Everybody is kind of in limbo and [wondering] what’s going to happen going forward,” Anderson said. “It’s a tough spot, not only for us, but baseball as a whole. But once somebody says, ‘Play Ball!’ you kind of put that behind you.”