A funny thing happened late Friday night.
Brewers utility infielder Craig Counsell stepped to the plate, dug in, waved that bat — and then laced a single to right field.
So? Nothing remarkable there, right? After all, he’d reached base on a hit 1,197 times before in his 16-year, five-team big league career, including 56 other times as a pinch hitter, as he was when he entered the Brewers’ 8-1 victory over the Astros last night.
Then what makes this so newsworthy? Well, this little fact: It was his first hit since June 10. (And no, he wasn’t on the DL!)
Counsell’s single in the ninth inning Friday snapped an unfathomable 0-for-45 skid. Yikes! As awful as Brandon Inge was, he’s even had four hits in the majors since then — and he spent considerable time on the DL with mono before being demoted to Triple A a few weeks ago.
Here’s what Counsell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after getting the monkey off his back.
“It’s been ugly, it’s been bad. Just to do something right, it’s good.”
Counsell’s manager, Ron Roenicke, had this to say:
“It’s big. It’s important when you’re feeling for a guy, you want him to do it and then he finally comes through. It’s a nice relief.”
Since collecting three hits June 10, Counsell, 40, went ridiculously cold and nearly made — or did make, depending on whom you believe — Major League Baseball history in the process.
Some outlets have said he was one more out from tying the record for futility for a non-pitcher, set by Brooklyn catcher Bill Bergen in 1909. But the Elias Sports Bureau insists Bergen, too, was 0-for-45 for the record that later was tied by Michigan native Dave Campbell in 1973.
The last position player to go 0-for-44 was Cleveland’s Tony Bernazard in 1984. Counsell can at least take some comfort in knowing another fella who went 0-for-44, Luis Aparicio (1971), is in the Hall of Fame. Slumps can happen to anybody, obviously, but, boy, was this one a dandy.
Counsell’s average dropped a whopping 91 points, simply unheard of for a healthy player in May, let alone this late in this season. He went from .236 to .145, before knocking it all the way up to .153 with that single Friday.