Unstoppable Yelich drills two more homers

Reigning MVP approaching MLB record for most HRs before May

April 21st, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- Another day, another one for the record books for .

Or, rather, two for the record books.

Yelich hit his Major League-leading 12th and 13th home runs in a 5-0 win over the Dodgers at Miller Park, pulling away from L.A.’s Cody Bellinger and Oakland's Khris Davis atop MLB’s leaderboard. Yelich set one Brewers home-run record and took a share of another while moving within one homer of matching the most power-packed opening month in Major League history.

When Ryan Braun greeted Yelich at home plate after Yelich’s second trot around the bases, Braun’s head was cocked to the side.

“I was just laughing,” Braun said. “He is impossibly good right now.”

Braun made a contribution of his own Saturday. So did Chase Anderson in a five-inning spot start for the Brewers, and the three relievers who completed a two-hit shutout. But the headliner, again, was Yelich, who set a Brewers record for homers before the end of April when he hit a third-inning solo shot, besting Eric Thames' 11 in April 2017. And when Yelich connected again off Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu in the sixth for his 13th homer, it tied Prince Fielder's franchise record for home runs in any month. Fielder hit 13 homers in May '07 on the way to hitting 50 that season.

Now, an all-time Major League record is well within reach of Yelich. The mark for homers before May 1 is 14, set by Albert Pujols in 2006 and matched by Alex Rodriguez in ‘07.

Yelich, who had a head start thanks to four games in March (he homered in all of them), has plenty of time to get there. The Brewers have nine more April games on the schedule.

“I expected him to get off to a good start and continue what he was doing last year, but this homestand has been absolutely incredible,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “It’s surpassing what we could all even draw up or imagine right now.” 

All of Yelich’s homestands have been incredible. Including his eight home runs in six games this week against the Cardinals and Dodgers, Yelich has hit all of his homers this season in home games. He has 35 home runs in 87 games at Miller Park over the past two years since coming to Milwaukee from cavernous Marlins Park.

"I feel pretty comfortable hitting here,” Yelich said with a shrug.

Is he even aware of the history he’s either making or approaching? 

“Not really, no,” Yelich said. “I don’t look at the records or what we’ve got going on or anything like that. I focus in the moment and the present and what you want to accomplish that day with your approach. Work in the cage, [batting practice], and then take it into the game. 

“Good or bad, reset the next day.” 

Yelich will be Clayton Kershaw’s problem in Sunday’s series finale. 

“You have to give him a lot of credit, especially the first one, to be honest I felt I executed my pitch,” said Ryu. “He just got there and put it in the stands. The second one was more of a mistake. I didn’t throw my curve the first two times, and I switched things up and he got to the curve. You can’t deny he’s the hottest hitter at the moment and he just punished me like that.”

Even when he wasn’t swinging the bat Saturday, Yelich impacted the game. In the seventh after Lorenzo Cain legged out a two-out double, the Dodgers opted to have left-hander Caleb Ferguson intentionally walk Yelich to face right-handed-hitting Ryan Braun, who is ice cold of late -- three hits in 38 at-bats after going hitless in his first three times up -- but has the ninth-best OPS in Major League history against lefties.

Braun made the Dodgers pay by smashing a three-run home run into the Brewers’ bullpen for a 5-0 lead.

“It was a big hit for us, for sure,” Yelich said. “Hopefully it gets Brauny going a little bit.”

That was a welcome assist. Before Braun went deep, 21 of the Brewers’ last 25 runs, and 13 of the last 14, were driven in by Yelich or one of Milwaukee’s hot-hitting pitchers. If Yelich begins to get the Barry Bonds treatment, as Cardinals manager Mike Shildt suggested earlier on this homestand, the hitters behind Yelich will have to start swinging the bat.

“If you look at my career numbers, I've obviously been pretty good against lefties,” Braun said. “This year, I've been bad against everybody, and Yeli has been impossibly good. The combination of those two things, it obviously made a lot of sense for them to do what they did.”

Braun added, “For him to get any pitches to hit, it's important for all of us to start swinging the bats better.”

Yelich, meanwhile, will try to keep swinging the same way.

“I’ve played baseball since I was five years old, watched Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, all those guys,” said Anderson. “But what [Yelich] does for our team -- and then you walk him and put Brauny up there, and Brauny hits a three-run homer. If we can get everything clicking on all cylinders, shoot, Christian Yelich might win another MVP for us.”