Top 10 Christian Yelich moments in Milwaukee
PHOENIX -- Christian Yelich is positioned to play in a Brewers uniform for the next decade, after signing a nine-year contract on Friday that includes a mutual option for a 10th season. If 2018 and 2019 are any indication, more Yelich highlights are in store.
Here are our picks for Yelich’s Top 10 moments from his first two years in Milwaukee
10) Relax Roxane
Winning the 2018 National League MVP Award opened many doors for Yelich, who, more often than not, walked through them. That included saying yes to ESPN The Magazine's invitation for him to pose nude in its annual Body Issue, which Yelich used as an opportunity to talk about the importance of being comfortable in one’s skin. He expected a negative reaction from most people, and he got it, specifically from a Twitter user named Roxane, who scolded Yelich for the photo shoot. He tweeted back a two-word response -- “Relax Roxane" -- that promptly went viral, and ultimately showed up on T-shirts around Miller Park. The next night, Yelich changed his walk-up music to "Roxanne" by The Police.
9) A homer spree to kick off 2019 season
“Regression” was the buzzword as Yelich began his MVP Award defense in 2019, and he wasted little time in dismissing those worries by homering in each of the Brewers’ first four games of the season. He was just getting started. After hitting a pair of home runs in Milwaukee’s 5-0 win over Cody Bellinger and the Dodgers on April 20, he had hit eight home runs in a six-game stretch, and he finished April with 14 home runs (including four in four bonus games in March that count toward this total) to set a club record for any month, topping Prince Fielder’s 13 homers in May 2007. And Yelich’s 34 RBIs in March/April tied his own output from the previous September and October, which was also the third best “month” in franchise history, behind Cecil Cooper’s 39 RBIs in July 1983 and Greg Vaughn’s 35 RBIs in June 1996.
The Theo Epstein game. Television cameras caught the reaction of Cubs president Theo Epstein when the Brewers twice rallied from a late deficit to beat the Cubs in a 5-3 win at Miller Park on July 28, 2019. Keston Hiura’s double in the eighth inning tied the game. After the Cubs went ahead with a run in the 10th, Yelich and Hiura homered off Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of that inning. It was a wild win at a critical time, with the July 31 Trade Deadline looming and the Brewers' president of baseball operations, David Stearns, looking for direction as to whether his club was a contender.
7) Nos. 40, 41 in D.C. thriller
It was like a prize fight at Nationals Park that spanned five hours and 40 minutes. The Brewers gave up their 5-0 lead in the third inning, and a 8-5 lead in the sixth, but Yelich saved the day by going 5-for-6 against the Nationals, with two home runs, four RBIs, three runs scored, a walk and a stolen base. Yelich hit his 40th home run of the season against Nationals closer Sean Doolittle in the ninth, and home run no. 41 in the 13th inning. The Brewers finally won in the 14th inning.
In what was arguably the Brewers’ most entertaining game of the 2018 regular season, Yelich tied a franchise record with six hits and also became the ninth player in club history to hit for the cycle in a 13-12, 10-inning win over the Reds. The cycle would be just one of the storylines to come out of the Brewers' wild win, as the game also featured Yelich throwing a runner out at the plate and the Reds' tying the game in the eighth due to an overturned call.
"I've never seen a game like that. It was incredible," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He's coming up there, and you're thinking he can't do it again, and he does it again.”
Yelich just missed the Triple Crown, but he became the Brewers' first league batting champion after going 3-for-4 with an RBI in the Brewers' 3-1 win over the Cubs in the NL Central tiebreaker game at Wrigley Field on Oct. 1, 2018. He finished the 2018 season with a .326 average, then hit .329 in 2019 to win the batting title again.
4) First Brewers HR in historic win
In the first contest in Major League history that started and ended with back-to-back home runs, Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham went deep for the Cardinals within the game's first three pitches, only to be answered by Yelich and Braun going deep with two outs in the bottom of the ninth for the win on April 3, 2018. Yelich, down to his final strike, tied the game with a home run before Braun smashed the next pitch into the home bullpen for a stunning 5-4 win.
Craig Counsell called it the finest game he’s seen Yelich play in his two years with the Brewers. The Cubs didn’t give Yelich anything to hit for eight innings at Miller Park on Sept. 8, 2019, so he walked three times, stole three bases and became Major League Baseball’s first 40/30 player since Braun achieved the feat in 2012. In the bottom of the ninth, Yelich finally got something he could put his bat on, and he poked a walk-off double to left field. The Brewers were just getting going; this was the second of seven straight victories as they climbed back within striking distance of the postseason. Two days later, on Sept. 10, the team would lose Yelich, who went on the IL after fracturing his right kneecap.
According to Elias, only four players in MLB history have hit for the cycle more than once in a single season. No one had ever done it twice against the same team. That changed Sept. 17, 2018, when Yelich logged his second cycle against the Reds in less than three weeks. Ever humble, he credited the runner in front of him, Curtis Granderson, for scoring on the play, ensuring that Yelich would get credit for the triple he needed to complete the feat. It was another huge night for Yelich in a sensational season that thrust the 26-year-old into the conversation for the National League MVP Award.
1) Smashing postseason debut
Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America had already cast their votes for MVP by the time Yelich and the Brewers took the field for the 2018 NL Division Series against the Rockies, so his home run in the third inning of a hard-fought, 10-inning win in Game 1 served merely as a footnote to Yelich’s MVP Award credentials. Hitting that home run in his postseason debut kicked off the Brewers' three-game sweep, sending the team on to what would be a seven-game NL Championship Series against the Dodgers.