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Christian Yelich homers three times, drives in seven runs vs. Cardinals

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Reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich powered the Brewers to a 10-7 win over the Cardinals on Monday night. The outfielder hit a pair of three-run homers and a solo shot, driving in seven runs.

Yelich’s first homer came in the second inning off of Dakota Hudson, capping off a three-run frame for the Brewers to take a 6-2 lead. Yelich broke a 6-6 tie in the sixth with another three-run shot, this time off of Mike Mayers. Yelich tacked on a solo homer in the eighth off of John Brebbia.

Yelich is the first Brewer to hit three homers in a game since Aaron Hill on May 7, 2016 against the Reds. There have now been 21 three-homer games by Brewers hitters. Yelich’s seven RBI matches a club record, achieved 11 other times, most recently by Jesús Aguilar on July 7, 2017 against the Yankees.

There have already been three three-homer games this season. The others came from the Yankees’ Gary Sánchez on April 7 against the Orioles and the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt on March 29 against the Brewers. 2018 saw 14 three-homer games.

Yelich now has eight homers on the season, seven of which have come off of Cardinal pitching. Along with the eight dingers, Yelich is hitting .354/.449/.785 with 22 RBI, 17 runs scored, and three stolen bases in 78 plate appearances.

Yelich’s most generous act actually occurred before Monday’s game, however. He delivered a puppy to two little girls who brought a sign to a Brewers game that read, “Yelich, hit a home run and my dad buys me a puppy!” Yelich, of course, homered in that game. The man does it all.

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper turns 27 years old today. As an early birthday present, he got to watch his former team reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. His new team finished exactly at .500 in fourth place, missing the playoffs. These were facts that did not go unnoticed as the Nationals completed an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals at home last night.

Harper spent seven seasons with the Nationals before hitting free agency and ultimately signing with the Phillies on a 13-million, $330 million contract. The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract at the end of the 2018 regular season, but about $100 million of that was deferred until he was 65 which lowered the present-day value of the offer. The Nats’ offer wasn’t even in the same ballpark, really.

Nevertheless, Nationals fans were upset that their prodigy jilted them to go to the Phillies. He was mercilessly booed whenever the Phillies played in D.C. Nats fans’ Harper jerseys were destroyed, or at least taped over.

Harper, of course, was phenomenal with the Nationals. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, then won the NL MVP Award several years later with an historically outstanding 1.109 OPS while leading the league with 42 homers and 118 runs scored. Overall, as a National, he had a .900 OPS. Pretty good. He was also productive in the postseason, posting an .801 OPS across 19 games, mostly against playoff teams’ best starters and best relievers. Furthermore, if the Nats had Harper this year, he would have been in right field in lieu of Adam Eaton. Harper out OPS’d Eaton by 90 points and posted 2.5 more WAR in a similar amount of playing time. The Nationals would have been even better if they had Harper this year.

The Nationals lost all four Division Series they appeared in during the Harper era. 3-2 to the Cardinals in 2012, 3-1 to the Giants in ’14, 3-2 to the Dodgers in ’16, and 3-2 to the Cubs in ’17. They finally get over the hump the first year they’re without Harper, that’s the difference, right? I saw the phrase “addition by subtraction” repeatedly last night, referring to Harper and the Nats’ subsequent success without him.

Harper, though, didn’t fork over four runs to the Cardinals in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 in 2012. He didn’t allow the Dodgers to rally for four runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 in ’16 before ultimately losing 4-3. He didn’t use a gassed Max Scherzer in relief in 2017’s Game 5, when he allowed five of the seven Cubs he faced to reach base, leading to three runs which loomed large in a 9-8 loss. If certain rolls of the dice in those years had gone the Nationals’ way, they would have appeared in the NLCS. They might’ve even been able to win a World Series.

The Nationals saw how that looks this year. It was the opposing manager this time, Dave Roberts, who mismanaged his bullpen. Howie Kendrick then hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the 10th inning off of Joe Kelly to win the NLDS for the Nats. The playoffs are random. Sometimes a ball bounces your way, sometimes an umpire’s call goes your way, and sometimes the opposing manager makes several unforced errors to throw Game 5 in your lap.

Reaching the World Series, then thumbing your nose while sticking out your tongue at Harper feels like a guy tagging his ex-girlfriend on his new wedding photos. It’s time to move on.