One of the reasons the Rays have had such a hard go of it lately has been that their best hitter — Evan Longoria — is really fighting it. He went 0 for 5 in last night’s loss to the Padres and he’s 4 for his last 31 in his last eight games.
As Tony Fabrizio of the Tampa Tribune notes in his game story this morning, Longoria grounded into a double play with two
on in the third, stranded six runners in all, and then topped the night off by striking out to end the game with the tying run at first base.
Longoria will get better, of course, because he is better. But one thing is clear: the Rays’ skid is not just a function of happenstance. They’ve been putting in a full-team’s effort worth of stink lately.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.