NEW YORK -- How badly did their injury-depleted bench hamstring the Brewers in the fifth inning of a 3-2 walk-off loss to the Mets on Sunday? Not much, insisted manager Craig Counsell, and he'd had plenty of time in his office to think about it.Counsell was ejected for the first
NEW YORK -- How badly did their injury-depleted bench hamstring the Brewers in the fifth inning of a 3-2 walk-off loss to the Mets on Sunday? Not much, insisted manager Craig Counsell, and he'd had plenty of time in his office to think about it.
Counsell was ejected for the first time this season amid an eventful half inning, which began and ended with his club trailing, 1-0. It started with Hernan Perez singling for the Brewers' first hit off Mets ace Noah Syndergaard, and moving to third with one out on a hit-and-run groundout and a stolen base.
With Eric Thames already out of the game with a left groin injury and Eric Sogard the only fully healthy player left on the bench, Ryan Braun stepped into the on-deck circle instead of starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin. That was notable in itself, because Braun had exited Saturday's game with back tightness.
Meanwhile, Brewers catcher Jett Bandy was called out on a low third strike. Bandy began jawing with home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, drawing an urgent response from Counsell and third-base coach Ed Sedar, aware that Bandy was the club's only healthy catcher. Manny Pina was sidelined for the fourth straight game by a troublesome calf.
Bandy was spared an ejection, but not Counsell.
"I was just trying to make sure Jett didn't get ejected," Counsell said. "I don't think I did a lot to get ejected, frankly. I walked out of the dugout and said something pretty innocent. [Wendelstedt] said, 'If you leave the dugout, you get ejected.' You know, fine. If they want to eject me, that's fine."
While that was happening, Braun returned to the dugout and Chacin emerged to hit. Chacin managed to put the ball in play against Syndergaard, but Mets shortstop Amed Rosario made a terrific play to his right to retire Chacin and end the inning.
"That could have been one run for us to win the game," Chacin said. "They're playing really well right now. They're making those plays right now."
For a few innings, it appeared that Braun may have just been a decoy. But he did eventually pinch-hit and was retired on a flyout with the bases empty to end the eighth.
Why did Counsell -- and bench coach Pat Murphy, who took over the managerial duties -- call Braun back with a chance to potentially tie the game?
"Ryan was going to hit if we got into what I thought was a better offensive [opportunity] -- man on third, less than two outs, or if we had first and third there," Counsell said. "At that point, you're planning on, 'Is something different going to come up later in the game?' and protecting yourself later in the game. The way Syndergaard was pitching, to me it's not a great offensive situation. Maybe we tie the game. Chacin hit a ball hard, it didn't work out.
"It's not like I felt like we left a huge run-scoring opportunity on the table there. You'd love it to work out where Braun comes up [later in the game] with men on base. It didn't. I still think I have to plan on what could happen later in the game more than that situation, with still 13 outs left in the game."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.