Nationals center fielder Denard Span sat out Tuesday’s game with a back injury and afterward admitted that he’s “tried to play through it for the last month.”
Span first had back spasms on June 7 and Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com notes that Tuesday was the eighth time he’s had to either sit out a game or leave a game early since then, so the Nationals may decide he needs a disabled list stint.
It’s a tough decision, because when healthy enough to be in the lineup Span has hit .329 with 13 walks, eight steals, and a .430 on-base percentage during the past month to remain a huge key atop the Nationals’ lineup. And because the outfield is already missing injured left fielder Jayson Werth the Nationals would be patching together the other two spots alongside right fielder Bryce Harper.
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.