ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers are off to the best start in baseball, but manager Ron Roenicke believes they can be better in certain areas. Bunting is at the top of his list.
The Brewers entered Tuesday tied with Miami for the Major League lead with 15 sacrifice bunts, but that total should be much higher, Roenicke said. He is particularly irked by the number of instances his players have been unable to get a bunt down when the opposing pitcher serves up a fastball.
"I can't imagine missing a bunt on a fastball right down the middle, and not even fouling it?" Roenicke said. "To just flat miss it? That's unbelievable to me. I can see if a guy is [throwing breaking pitches] and it's on the black, OK.
"Some of it is pride, sure. Some of it is the importance [of bunting in today's game]. Put it this way: If I wasn't a good bunter, I wouldn't have stayed in the big leagues as long. Part of the reason I was there is I could bunt. For an extra guy, or a guy who wants to get out there and start every day, they should do little things the best that they can. Today's game, it's just not an important factor."
Roenicke does not know the statistics, but he guessed that the success rate on sacrifice bunts around baseball this season was less than 50 percent. The Brewers bunt off a pitching machine every day during Spring Training, but rarely do so during the regular season.
Roenicke will keep working on it with players.
"All you can do is keep bringing guys out early," he said. "Right now, Eddie [Sedar, the Brewers' third- base coach] has the starting pitchers in the cage bunting. But it's the regulars, too. It's in baseball. For whatever reason, it's part of the game that guys aren't real successful at."
A few hours later, a missed bunt coincidentally worked in the Brewers' favor. Lyle Overbay hit two attempts foul before swinging away with two strikes and delivering the go-ahead single in an 11-inning, 5-4 win over the Cardinals.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.