Victor Martinez is skipping the All-Star Game because of a side and back injury–allowing teammate Ian Kinsler to join the team in his place–but the Tigers designated hitter is aiming to rejoin the lineup Friday when Detroit begins the second half versus Cleveland.
Martinez has been out since July 4 and hasn’t gone on a minor-league rehab assignment, but told Jason Beck of MLB.com that “there’s like a 95 percent [chance] that I’m going to be able to play when I get back on Friday.”
Before the injury Martinez had an MVP-caliber first half at the plate, hitting .328 with 21 homers, 19 doubles, and a career-high .991 OPS in 80 games while walking (33) more than he struck out (23).
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.