MILWAUKEE -- Maybe he is psychic.
If you can believe it, Christian Yelich did it again against the Cardinals, like he knew what was coming.
His three-run home run in the fifth inning on Tuesday broke open an eight-run Brewers lead in an 8-4 win at Miller Park, giving Yelich a homer in all six games against the Cardinals this season, and seven straight games against St. Louis in which he's had an at-bat dating back to last year.
The Brewers have won five of their first six against the Cardinals, thanks largely to Yelich, who has hit eight of his nine home runs at St. Louis’ expense. Less than three weeks removed from Opening Day, Yelich is already the first hitter in Brewers history to homer eight times against the Cardinals in a single season.
He will have plenty of chances to hit more; the teams have 13 games left on the schedule.
“It’s almost like he’s psychic,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt mused on Monday, after Yelich bounced back from two hitless games at Dodger Stadium to go deep three times with seven RBIs in a Brewers win.
That led some to wonder whether Shildt was suggesting the possibility of sign stealing.
Not so, Shildt said Tuesday afternoon.
“That wasn't what I was referring to,” Shildt said. “We're always aware. We have to be. That’s the game we play in today. I'm not taking anything at all away from Christian Yelich. The comment about him being psychic was about him having awareness and elevated consciousness right now of what's going on, where he's going and what he's swinging at, and that's to his credit."
For the record, the Brewers insist they aren’t stealing signs. So said Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, who also homered to spark a five-run third inning punctuated by a two-run double from Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff.
“We ain’t stealing signs. I promise that,” Cain said. “The guy’s just good. Flat-out good. He’s just a flat-out stud.”
“We didn’t have the signs,” Yelich said. “But, I mean, no one’s really going to care if I say we didn’t have them. But we didn’t. It’s just about executing when you get a pitch to hit, a mistake. I don’t take any offense to [the suggestion] or anything like that. It’s just the game of baseball. What are you going to do?”
One couldn't blame the Cardinals if they were curious. Yelich has 14 homers in 22 games against St. Louis since joining the Brewers, 12 of which have come in 16 meetings at Miller Park.
Yelich's 10 RBIs in the first two games of this three-game series are already the most by a Brewers player in a single series against the Cardinals. Casey McGehee held the previous mark with nine RBIs in a series against St. Louis in 2009.
Tuesday's damage came against a Cardinals newcomer, Ryan Helsley, fresh up from Triple-A Memphis for his Major League debut. Armed with a fastball that topped out at 101.5 mph, Helsley drew Yelich as his first hitter with two runners on and two outs. He hung a 2-2 slider, and Yelich hit it to the right-field bleachers.
Welcome to the big leagues.
“People say you could walk him to get to [Ryan] Braun,” Shildt said. “What are you going to tell a guy that comes to the big leagues? ‘You aren’t good enough to pitch to a good hitter.’ He went right at him. Guy put a swing on it.”
The Brewers are making those decisions harder on the Cardinals by putting runners on base. Of Yelich’s four home runs in the past two days, three have come in situations that a walk would have loaded the bases.
It’s to the point that the Cardinals are reconsidering. Perhaps it’s time to give Yelich the Barry Bonds treatment, and begin ordering intentional walks.
“It is possible [Wednesday],” Shildt said. “Absolutely. It is possible. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again. There is a fine line between giving the Bonds treatment and appreciating the fact at some point you feel like it is going to end. We also want our guys to compete and execute. Right now, against him, we are not consistently.”
More club records are within reach with Yelich at nine home runs and 25 RBIs this season. The franchise record for home runs in March/April is 11 by Eric Thames in 2017. The record for RBIs in March/April is 26 by Prince Fielder in 2011. After Tuesday, the Brewers have 13 games remaining in April.
“[The Cardinals] have a really good staff over there, a really good team overall,” Cain said. “I mean, that guy was throwing 100 and then threw [Yelich] a slider. The guy’s just on everything. I just want him to stay as locked in as long as possible.”