Caught 'em napping! Yelich takes home on straight steal

May 21st, 2024

MIAMI -- has stolen plenty of bases before. He entered Monday’s series opener in Miami with 188 career swiped bags, including 35 at loanDepot park -- his old stomping grounds.

But with the Brewers holding a mere one-run lead over the Marlins in the top of the sixth inning, Yelich did something he had never done before: He stole home.

With one out, Yelich had worked a walk to give the Brewers their third baserunner of the night before stealing second base and advancing to third on a throwing error by Miami catcher Nick Fortes.

Then, he saw his chance to give Milwaukee some insurance.

Insurance that, with the Brewers relying on their bullpen following just one inning from starter Joe Ross (early exit from a low back strain), they desperately needed. In the end, Yelich's run wasn't enough backing and Milwaukee lost, 3-2, in the 10th inning.

“Yeli's play is epic, it's great,” manager Pat Murphy said. “Just like, a tremendous play there.”

After southpaw starter Ryan Weathers delivered a strike against Willy Adames, Fortes took a knee and rainbowed (or, soft-tossed) the ball back to the pitcher. Yelich took off almost immediately, the ball still dropping through the air as he sprinted a healthy 28.2 feet-per-second (not his fastest this year, that’s 29.3 ft/sec) and snuck between the legs of Fortes to beat the tag and touch the plate.

“Not too often [do I see something like that],” Murphy said. “Not too often here. But he's -- you know, he's not swinging the bat exactly the way he wants to right now, in the last week or so. But he's a really good baseball player. So it's fun to watch.”

Yelich is the 10th player this year to steal home, though some of those were via double steals. The last Brewer to steal home was Adames, back on April 23, 2022, in Philadelphia -- and that one was a double steal, with Yelich the counterpart (he swiped second).

Excluding any double steals, Yelich’s swiped bag was the Brewers' first straight steal of home since Scott Podsednik on Aug. 30, 2003, against the Cubs -- almost 21 years ago.

With a feat like that, the Crew was all but certain they had stolen the game. That, of course, wasn’t the case.

“I'd say it's frustrating for a number of reasons,” Yelich said of the loss. “Not going to go into it. Just leave it at that.”

Part of the frustration was tied to Ross’ early exit. The righty had felt some low-back tightness leading up to the start, but wanted to try to pitch through it. He wasn’t 100%, he admitted postgame, but he wanted to try. He would have gone back out after the first inning, too, but the staff decided it was in his (and the team’s) best interest to go to the bullpen.

“He got through the first inning, came out after the first inning [and] said he wasn't feeling great,” Murphy said. “We thought it was in the best interest to get him out of there. And then our ‘pen did a great job keeping us [in it], ‘till that the blooper fell in. And then at the end, [Mitch] White did a nice job of doing what he had to do, throwing strikes -- and he got the ground ball [at the end], but it just had eyes and got through.”

That blooper Murphy referred to was a fly ball in the bottom of the ninth that dropped in front of Jackson Chourio in right field -- a hit with a zero percent catch probability from where Chourio was playing deep in right field. Miami plated the game-tying run on the knock to force extras.

But while the Marlins made the most of wonky hits, things fell the opposite way for the Brewers. For instance, a ground-rule double in the top of the ninth that could have been an RBI knock, had the ball not gotten stuck under the padding in the right-field corner. Or the Brewers’ two bases-loaded outs in the top of the 10th.

“[Andruw] Monasterio scores on that and then the ball gets stuck in the fence, so that takes one [run] off the board,” Murphy said. “We had opportunities there and [the Marlins] either made the play or we left the zone a little bit. But hats off to our bullpen for what they did tonight to get us in that position. That's what you got to think about -- great performances by the bullpen tonight.”

“Those guys have been stepping up big for us all year,” Yelich said, “and they did a great job [tonight], just passing the baton to each other. And, you know, they gave us a great chance to win.”