The Associated Press

Benches clear in NL Wild Card Game after Tony Watson plunks Jake Arrieta

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Frustration is boiling over for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have played in three straight do-or-die National League Wild Card Games and look poised to drop this one to the visiting Chicago Cubs.

Jake Arrieta entered his at-bat in the top of the seventh inning having whiffed eight Pittsburgh batters over six scoreless innings. With two outs and nobody on, Pirates reliever Tony Watson struck Arrieta in the backside with a pitch that looked intentionally located.

Both benches cleared, and it was Pirates utilityman Sean Rodriguez who served as the most physical aggressor. He tried to throw a punch at Cubs backup catcher David Ross at one point, and grazed Kyle Schwarber on the miss. Here’s the video, though it doesn’t include the Rodriguez punch (er, attempted punch) …

Chicago is leading 4-0 in Pittsburgh in the top of the eighth inning.

Watch: Christian Yelich continues to make a case for NL MVP repeat

Christian Yelich
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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.