CINCINNATI -- No one from the Reds or Brewers agreed whether relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen was in the bunting position when he fouled off a two-strike pitch on Wednesday night. What's not up for dispute is what Lorenzen did with the very next pitch.
During a wild 13-12 Milwaukee win over Cincinnati in 10 innings at Great American Ball Park, Lorenzen slugged a three-run home run in the sixth inning after he initially appeared to be out on a bunted foul ball for strike three against Brewers reliever Taylor Williams.
After Josh Hader put the first two Reds on base in the sixth with a walk and a single, Williams was called in to face Lorenzen, who attempted a sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second. Williams' 1-2 pitch was a slider that was high and inside, heading toward Lorenzen's face. Lorenzen recoiled backward and the ball went off the bat foul.
The Brewers thought he was out, but Lorenzen didn't leave the batter's box after getting up from Williams' knockdown pitch.
"I didn't foul it off as a bunt. I fouled it off as a hitter," Lorenzen said. "I pulled the bat back trying to get out of the way. It didn't count as a bunt attempt, exactly. That's why it was just a foul ball. I've never seen that before, never had that rule come up before."
Had it been a bunt, that would mean strike three and an out. But home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo felt Lorenzen had pulled the bat back to negate the bunt foul and appealed to first-base umpire Nick Mahrley for confirmation.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell argued, but the call stood after Randazzo convened with the three other umpires. The play was not reviewable. Crew chief Bill Welke explained the situation after the game.
"It was a very unusual play," Welke said. "Rule 5.09 says a batter is out when he bunts foul on [the] third strike. But now we have to go to, 'What is the definition of a bunt?' So if we go to the definitions in the rulebook, page 141, a bunt is a batted ball not swung at, but intentionally met with the bat and tapped slowly within the infield. He was in full retreat. It was not an intentionally met non-swinging attempt. He was not attempting to hit that. Therefore if he's not bunting, it just becomes a foul ball.
"Tony's responsibility was to make sure the first-base umpire didn't have him attempting. That was just good umpiring on Tony's part."
Counsell still felt Lorenzen was in bunt mode.
"I know it was an up-and-in pitch, but I still thought he offered at the pitch. They didn't agree," Counsell said.
What happened next was stunning.
Given a second chance, Lorenzen slugged the next pitch for a three-run home run into the left-field seats for a 10-6 Cincinnati lead.
"He threw me all sliders," Lorenzen said of Williams. "Once [third-base coach Billy Hatcher] told me I was hitting, I knew I was going to get another slider, most likely. I stayed up in the box like I was when I was bunting, just not giving anything away, and he gave me a slider and I was able to hit it."
It was Lorenzen's fourth homer of the season, his third vs. Milwaukee and second as a pitcher. His other two were as a pinch-hitter. He delivered a bat flip before rounding the bases.
"To me, it looked like he didn't pull back. It looked like he was protecting himself," Williams said of the bunt. "The reality of the situation is that's what was called on the field, and whatever happened after that -- it was frustrating, but ... I need to bear down and execute a pitch after that."
Lorenzen could not enjoy this homer like he has past long balls. He gave up an unearned run in the top of the sixth after his own throwing error started the inning. He gave up a two-run homer to Jonathan Schoop in the four-run Milwaukee seventh that made it a 10-10 game.
"Right now, [the homer] doesn't feel so great, to be honest," Lorenzen said. "I feel like I lost us that game right there with the momentum swinging. Gave it right back to them."