Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy has already been slumping and now Rich Dubroff of CSNMidAtlantic.com reports that he’s headed to the disabled list with a left groin injury.
The injury has bothered Hardy for a few days. The 33-year-old was held out of today’s lineup against the Twins, but entered the game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning before leaving for a pinch-runner in the 11th. Hardy admitted to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun after the game that he felt some discomfort while running and walking, so it was decided that a trip to the disabled list is the best course of action.
Hardy is still very good defensively, but he continues to decline at the plate. He’s hitting just .145 this month and .222/.253/.315 with seven home runs and 32 RBI on the year.
Ryan Flaherty figures to get most of the playing time at shortstop with Hardy sidelined. It’s worth noting that Manny Machado made his first major league appearance at shortstop in the 12th inning today after Hardy left the game. He committed an error which opened the door for the winning run to score.
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.