MILWAUKEE -- There was a point around the All-Star break when Christian Yelich watched video of his at-bats and said he didn’t recognize the player in the batter’s box. Now he’s feeling more like himself again.
“I think I feel better right now than I have at points in the season,” Yelich said after matching his season high with three hits in the Brewers’ 10-0 win over the Phillies at American Family Field on Tuesday. “Having good at-bats and putting good swings on balls -- not all of them have been falling; it seems like a lot have been hitting guys square in the chest actually -- but it's nice to have better at-bats and feel like you're in a little control there instead of all that other [expletive] we were rolling out there earlier in the season.”
Yelich is hitting .340 (33-for-97) with 14 RBIs over his last 26 games with Tuesday’s performance, when he was one of four Brewers hitters to drive in a pair of runs.
It’s been a gradual improvement for Yelich, whose season has been “choppy,” as hitting coach Andy Haines put it, because of a back injury that sidelined him for about five weeks in April and May. Yelich’s month-by-month OPS reflects that; .826 in April and .672 in May in small samples. It was .844 in June but slipped to .628 in July, when Yelich batted .209.
Then he started hitting again in August, when Yelich slashed .313/.359/.470 and the Brewers went 19-9 to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the National League Central.
“I think everybody who comes to work wants to do their job well,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “And Christian is no different than that. I don't think we should expect him to be different than that. So, he wants to do his job well. And it means something to him to do his job well. And it means something to him when he doesn't feel like he's doing his job well. That's OK.
“Sometimes you go through stretches where it's just, you're just not doing your job well. He doesn't like it. I don't like it. We don't like it. I don't do my job well some days, I don't like it. But I think he feels good about it now, and that's a good thing for everybody.”
Can Yelich pinpoint where on the schedule he started feeling like himself?
The answer was no.
“Just kind of plugging along, trying to contribute every night,” he said. “Honestly, I don't even know when I started doing better. It kind of just all feels like the same. I’m just focused on trying to help our team win. It's easy to go out and compete like that every night and everything else just takes care of itself.”