MILWAUKEE -- Yeah, he’s back.
“I caught wind of him saying that he didn’t get all of that one,” said Davies, who went deep himself by pitching 7 2/3 stellar innings on a day the Brewers badly needed them. “We’ll have to see what he has next.”
“I got it pretty good,” said Yelich. “It was nice to be back for sure.”
Last year, during his MVP season, Yelich's 15th home run did not come until July 28.
According to Statcast, Yelich’s third-inning moonshot left his bat at 110.5 mph and traveled a projected 440 feet to a small section of bleachers high above right field that was once frequented by Prince Fielder. Of his 15 homers, this one was Yelich’s longest and second-hardest hit.
“I remember Prince doing it. I remember Adam Dunn doing it,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “But not many guys.”
Yelich batted second and manned his customary right-field spot in his first start in a week. He made one pinch-hit appearance in Saturday night’s 18-inning marathon win for the Crew, lining out to lead off the bottom of the 10th. The reigning National League MVP has missed time with lower back soreness that surfaced in last Sunday’s loss to the Mets at Citi Field, which forced him to exit the game in the fifth inning.
Yelich was on another MVP track before he was sidelined, batting .353/.460/.804 with 14 home runs, tying a Major League record alongside Dodgers star Cody Bellinger for the most homers by a player before May 1.
“Patience was the right thing to do,” said Counsell, who’d faced questions for days about Yelich’s availability before restoring him to the starting lineup. “We want him in there as soon as we can every single time, but there’s a big picture here and there’s a whole bunch of games left. It’s better that we get him as close to 100 percent before we put him out there. At this time of the year, that’s what we have to do.”
Was Yelich’s patience tested?
“No, I understand. I don’t want to be stupid about it,” Yelich said. “I want to be out there, for sure, but I understand that you have to take your time, make sure it’s all good and not lose sight of the bigger picture.”
Staked to a 3-0 lead, Davies made it stand with what was arguably the Brewers’ best start this season, given the circumstances. The Brewers needed length after the bullpen covered 12 2/3 frames of an 18-inning win the night before, and Davies took them within four outs of the finish line while holding the Mets to two runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings. Davies walked one and struck out five to lower his ERA through seven starts to 1.56, second-best among MLB qualifiers. Matt Albers and Josh Hader closed out the victory, with Hader striking out the side in the ninth.
Credit an assist to center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who helped Davies keep the Mets off the board with a wall-banging catch that robbed Pete Alonso of a hit in the sixth. In the bottom of the inning, Cain was hit on the left hand by a pitch and left the game, but X-rays were negative.
“After a game like [Saturday’s], I think the starter goes in knowing that he wants to deliver that and Zach delivered as much as we possibly could have expected,” Counsell said. “To do it, to back it up, to pitch a great game, to pitch deep into the game, get to a place pitch-wise that he probably hasn’t been, it’s pretty special. It’s what a team is, man.”
Davies is the first Brewers starting pitcher since Zack Greinke in 2012 to allow two runs or fewer in each of his first four games at Miller Park in a season.
By throwing 118 pitches, Davies was the first Brewers pitcher to top 110 pitches since his own 114-pitch effort against the Nationals in July 2017.
“We needed that. We needed him to go deep,” said Yelich. “You don’t really see guys throw 120 pitches anymore, and he stepped up huge for us like he’s done all year. Any time you have injuries [like Davies endured last year], you’re not yourself, it’s frustrating. To see him back, he’s been going deep into games for us every time he takes the ball.”
Yelich stepped up, too.
“The guy’s amazing,” said Cain. “He’s the real deal. I don’t even know what else to say about him. It’s ridiculous, the things he’s doing out there. Good to have him back and glad that he’s back out there playing with us and doing what he does best -- hit homers, getting hits, doing it all.”