The Brewers’ bonkers, extra-inning 13-12 win over the Reds in Cincinnati on Wednesday may have been their most exciting game of the year. And on an explosive, important night when Milwaukee pounded out a season-high 22 hits, including four home runs, while the Cubs and Cardinals both lost, the driver’s seat belonged entirely to Christian Yelich.
The best game of the 26-year-old outfielder’s career was one of the most productive in Brewers history and among the rarest all-time in baseball. Yelich went 6 for 6 and hit for the cycle, becoming the eighth player in team history to get the cycle and tying the club record with six hits.
He was the 78th MLB player since 1900 to go 6 for 6 in a game and the fourth player ever to collect six hits while accomplishing the cycle. Also scoring two runs and adding three RBI, Yelich boosted his impressive slash line to .319/.380/.563 and thrust himself into the MVP discussion.
The National League leader in batting average said he was "so tired" after steering the Brewers’ big comeback – they were down 10-6 after six innings – and attributed hitting for the cycle partially to "some luck."
But manager Craig Counsell, whose decision-making has been called into question a bit during Milwaukee’s second-half slide, wasn’t so modest.
"I’ve never seen a game like that. It was incredible," Counsell said of Yelich, who also threw out the would-be go-ahead run at home plate in the seventh inning. "He’s coming up and you’re thinking he can’t do it again, and he does it again. He did everything tonight, he really did. He’s driving the bus home tonight."
Or maybe give him a break. In a game where the Brewers’ pitching, both starting and relief, once again struggled, Counsell’s team needed everything Yelich gave them.
In going 6 for 6 and becoming the first Brewer to hit for the cycle since George Kottaras in 2011, Yelich probably leap-frogged teammate Lorenzo Cain – the other invaluable outfielder GM David Stearns added in the offseason – and joined Freddie Freeman, Nolan Arenado, Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt among the top five league MVP candidates.
After dropping 11 of 20 games and falling to third place in the NL Central, Milwaukee is currently clinging onto the second Wild Card spot, and with Chicago and St. Louis losing Wednesday, the club gained a game in the division. In Cincinnati, the Brewers took the lead four different times, with Jesus Aguilar’s 30th homer proving to the game-winner in the 10th inning.
More from @ChristianYelich: "Hopefully that's one of those wins during the season where you can look back on it and say, 'hey, that's where it all started.'"#ThisIsMyCrew pic.twitter.com/uUrnHVipst — FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) August 30, 2018
A game that started with a 27-minute rain delay turned out to be Milwaukee’s most electrifying of 2018. And, in the thick of a tight playoff race, with a thrilling-but-inconsistent roster and the ghosts of recent late-season collapses looming over them, the Brewers better get used to wild ones.
"Look, the next month there’s going to be crazy nights and there’s going to be more nights like this," Counsell said. "It might be a different kind of crazy. We’re ready to take that ride."
Especially if Christian Yelich is at the wheel.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.