Facing a lefty in Anaheim’s C.J. Wilson on Friday, the Mariners have Jason Bay leading off for the first time in his career.
With Franklin Gutierrez sidelined, Endy Chavez had been leading off for the Mariners of late, but he’s only an option there against righties. Bay, who is hitting .220 overall, is 4-for-14 with a couple of walks against left-handed pitchers, giving him a .375 OBP in those matchups.
The only other spot in which Bay had never hit was ninth. He’s spent the bulk of his career batting third, fourth and fifth. He has hit second eight times with poor results; he’s 3-for-30 with 12 strikeouts and one walk from that spot.
Bay’s appearance in the leadoff spot comes in his 1,179th major league start.
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.