Christian Yelich didn’t waste any time putting the Brewers on the board as the team kicked off Game 7 of the NLCS on Saturday. After going homer-less since Game 1 of the NLDS, Yelich pounced on a 98.4-MPH fastball from the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler and plunked it over the center field fence for a 1-0 lead in the first inning:
While Yelich put up monster numbers during the regular season, including a .326/.402/.598 batting line, 36 home runs, and a 1.000 OPS, his power all but evaporated during the Brewers’ postseason run. Entering Saturday’s game, he’s collected just two extra bases — a two-run homer in Game 1 of the NLDS and a double in Game 6 of the NLCS — and maintained a sluggish .188 average over nine games so far.
Rookie Buehler has been a relatively easy target for batters in the playoffs after allowing a cumulative nine runs and two homers over his last two appearances. Things might get a little more tricky for the Brewers should Clayton Kershaw take the mound tonight; as Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts told reporters earlier today, Kershaw will be ready to step out of the bullpen at the first sign of trouble. For what it’s worth, however, playoff teams that score first have gone 21-6 this fall (h/t MLB Stat of the Day).
The Brewers currently trail 2-1 in the second following Cody Bellinger‘s two-RBI blast off of Jhoulys Chacín in the top of the inning.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.