Stretch misstep hard to swallow for Drake

Stretch misstep hard to swallow for Drake

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brewers right-hander Oliver Drake was visibly frustrated with himself during the seventh inning of Monday's 5-4 loss to the Twins at Target Field.

Drake's flinch on the mound loomed large, as home-plate umpire Bill Welke called him for a balk that allowed Eddie Rosario to score the go-ahead run from third base. It was enough to hand the Milwaukee bullpen its Major League-leading 29th loss.

"It's a situation that we have been in before," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "The runner was going to play around there. He's not going anywhere. If anything, we could have had a conversation with Oliver about it."

Drake was handed his fourth loss of the year after allowing two runs on a pair of hits over 1 1/3 innings. He threw 28 pitches, 20 of which were strikes. Drake walked two batters, including one to begin the seventh frame.

After Eduardo Escobar was gifted first base, Rosario lifted a hard-hit liner to right-center. Right fielder Domingo Santana initially came in on the ball, but had to backtrack, leaping in the air as it sailed a good 20 feet over his head and headed toward the wall. Escobar scored from first to tie the game.

Counsell on balk, 5-4 loss

Per Statcast™, Rosario's double had an exit velocity of 104.2 mph and traveled an estimated 333 feet.

"I'm not sure that he gets it. It was hit very hard," Counsell said of Santana's chance to catch the ball had he not misread it. "I don't think he would have caught it either way. It's not right behind him, he had to go to the gap, too."

After Rosario advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Byron Buxton, Drake retired Ehire Adrianza on a popout to shortstop. The Brewers then shifted their infield defense over against catcher Jason Castro, leaving third base unoccupied.

With nobody holding him on, Rosario became active down the third-base line. He danced around in an attempt to distract Drake. With the count 2-2, Rosario's efforts caused Drake to flinch while he was in the stretch, and Rosario shouted in approval as the balk was called, and he trotted home.

"It's something we try to teach," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "He put a lot of pressure on the pitcher even though he was pitching from the stretch. I thought he might go the first one, and then the second time he was able to get that reaction."

Drake admitted he noticed Rosario jumping around the pitch before his balk, but the second time is what forced him to try to step off for a breather. Counsell came out afterward to plead his case to Welke, but the umpire was adamant that the ball was live.

And Drake, who was just one pitch away from keeping the game tied, was unable to finish the inning.

"It's huge if I can just make one pitch after that. I get that guy out, and it's a tie game and a completely different story," Drake said. "Balking in the winning run really [stinks]."

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis. He covered the Brewers on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.