Christian Yelich
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Video: Christian Yelich decorates three-hit night with home run no. 44

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Brewers slugger and reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich further cemented his status as a member of the 40+ home run club on Friday, collecting home run no. 44 during a 7-1 rout of the Cubs.

With a pair of base hits rounding out his performance, Yelich turned in his first multi-hit game of the month and 46th such game of the year. In the bottom of the third inning, he lifted a 3-2 changeup from Cole Hamels and belted it well over the right field fence to put the Brewers on the board.

With all three hits accounted for, the 27-year-old All-Star still has some of the highest marks in the league. He finished Friday’s win batting .326/.421/.672 with 44 homers, a 1.093 OPS, and a near- career-high 6.9 fWAR through 560 plate appearances.

Right now, only five other players can boast membership in the 40-homer club this season: Mike Trout (45), Pete Alonso (45), Cody Bellinger (44), Eugenio Suárez (42), and Jorge Soler (40). Yelich will likely continue to battle Alonso and Bellinger for an NL-best home run record as the last month of the regular season unfolds, as the three have been neck-and-neck for quite some time. (Of course, it’s not out of the question to assume he might get ahead of both Trout and Alonso to lay claim to the home run title across both leagues, too.)

With their win over the Cubs, the Brewers took one step forward in the race for a wild card berth this fall. They’re now 4.0 games behind either wild card spot in the National League — not an insurmountable distance to close in the next few weeks, but one that will be made a little tougher by the current position of the Nationals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Mets, and Phillies.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.