Astounding. Stupefying. Breathtaking. Remarkable. Superlative. Phenomenal. Incredible.
How many different ways can we come up with to continue defining the mind-bending exploits of Christian Yelich?
He stepped up to the plate as the second batter of the game for the Milwaukee Brewers. He got a 92 MPH fastball above the top of the strike zone on a 1-0 count from Michael Wacha, and he tomahawked that baseball into the bleachers out in right field for his fourth home run of the year to make it 1-0. Yelich becomes the first player in franchise history to homer in the first four games of the season and only the sixth player in MLB history to accomplish the feat. No one has ever homered in five straight games to start a season.
Yelich maintains his 162 home run pace through 4 games pic.twitter.com/7ZlkQ6fQkK— Baseball Lifestyle™ (@BsbLifestyle__) March 31, 2019
Yelich was intentionally walked in the third inning. He drew a six-pitch walk in the fifth. Another walk in the seventh inning, this time on four pitches from Andrew Miller.
The came the ninth inning. Trailing by a score of 4-3, Craig Counsell called on Ben Gamel to pinch-hit leading off the frame. He hit a liner to the opposite field that bounced just inside the line and over the head of left fielder Marcell Ozuna for a double. The next batter, Lorenzo Cain, hit a ball that deflected off the glove of Cardinals’ pitcher Jordan Hicks and legged out an infield single. That brought Yelich to the plate with runners on first and third base.
On the third pitch of the at-bat, an 102 MPH sinker, this is what Yelich did:
CHRISTIAN YELICH!!! BREWERS WIN! pic.twitter.com/ase7j5tk6V— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) March 31, 2019
Since Statcast started tracking in 2015, no one has hit a ball that hard (110.6+ mph) off a pitch that fast (101.8+ mph) https://t.co/kaUxdjdqA6— David Adler (@_dadler) March 31, 2019
So far in four games and 18 plate appearances, Yelich is hitting .500/.667/1.583 with four homers, six walks, eight RBI, and six runs scored for a 345 wRC+. What’s that about regression?
A lot of other stuff happened in this game, too. Some of it was pretty cool! It was Corbin Burnes’ first big league start, and things sure did begin pretty well for him. He allowed a leadoff double to Matt Carpenter in the top of the first, then struck out the next three batters to end the inning. A single allowed in the second inning, but three more punchouts. A walk in the third, and another three K’s. So, the first nine outs recorded by Corbin Burnes in his first MLB start were all via the strikeout.
Corbin Burnes' nine consecutive outs via strikeout tied a Brewers franchise record. Bob Gibson ("Not that one," as @MikeVassallo13 put it) in 1984.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) March 31, 2019
He started having issues in the fourth inning, though. Marcell Ozuna beat out an infield single that Travis Shaw couldn’t successfully barehand leading off the frame. Then Paul DeJong clobbered a high-inside fastball over the fence in left field to give St. Louis what was a 2-1 lead. Burnes’ strikeout streak ended with the next batter when Yadier Molina grounded out to short, but he did add his 10th punchout of the game when he got Harrison Bader to end the inning.
Strikeout number 11 came against Wacha to start the fifth, and then more home run problems. Matt Carpenter clubbed an 0-1 fastball that caught too much of the plate out of the park for his first long ball of 2019. Then Paul effin’ Goldschmidt, who tortured the Brewers during his time in Arizona and figures to do so with even more regularity during the next half-decade with St. Louis, smashed his fourth dinger of the year. Burnes would notch one more strikeout before ending the fifth, completing his day with 12 whiffs but a less-than-stellar line overall:
5 IP | 6 H | 4 ER | 3 HR | 1 BB | 12 K
Milwaukee’s bullpen stepped up and kept St. Louis’ lineup in check to set the stage for the late-game comeback. Matt Albers tossed a pair of perfect innings with two strikeouts. Taylor Williams issued a walk in the eighth inning but finished it off scoreless. Jacob Barnes threw a scoreless frame of his own in the ninth, battling back from the debacle that was his regular season debut.
Besides the offense provided by Yelich, the Brewers also got RBI base hits from Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw, both in the seventh inning and with two outs.
The Brewers finish their opening series against the Cardinals with a 3-1 record and now move to Cincinnati to face the Reds at Great American Ballpark. Zach Davies will be making his season debut for our Cream City Nine while Tanner Roark toes the slab for those dastardly boys from the Queen City. First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 PM central time.