Opening Day is almost here for the Milwaukee Brewers, and expectations are high for Christian Yelich’s 2021 season.
His 2020 season wasn’t spectacular, but it’s something we will probably never see again. 60 games. Starting in mid-summer. No fans. The Brewers have always benefitted from an electric crowd of fans. Without them or in-game video, it’s not very shocking that Yelich had an off year. Number 22 has had a great Spring Training this year, which eases possible doubts going into 2021.
Opening Day stats obviously don’t paint a picture for the season, but with 2021’s iteration quickly approaching, let’s break down Opening Day games for Christian Yelich during his first three years in Milwaukee
Christian Yelich’s first at bat as a Milwaukee Brewer was on March 29th, 2018. The Brewers opened up against the Padres in San Diego.
I have no memory of this, but Christian Yelich’s first at bat with the Brewers was a strikeout. Lorenzo Cain led off with a single. Yelich struck out, then Ryan Braun hit into a double play. Not a great start, but the rest of the season turned out to be pretty incredible.
Yelich looked at six pitches during the at bat. He hit four foul balls and took a second pitch slider. His sixth pitch, the strikeout pitch, was a 91 MPH fastball on the middle left corner at the hands. A good pitch, and the highest velocity pitch of the at bat.
His next at bat was much different. After swinging at two straight sliders, the third pitch connected for a single to left-center. No runs would come from the single, but the Brewers already had two outs and Travis Shaw grounded out with the bases loaded.
In the sixth, Yelich would ground out on his second pitch. It was another pitch on the middle left corner, and went right to the second baseman. In the eighth inning, Yelich was walked. The Brewers were up 1-0 at this point.
The game eventually went into extra innings. Christian was first up in the top of the 11th. He almost hit one out, but flied out to right field. The hero of that game? Orlando Arcia. He hit a single and brought home Ji-Man Choi. Former reliever Jacob Barnes recorded the save for the Brewers, who ended up winning, 2-1.
The Brewers opened up 2019 against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park. Expectations were high after Milwaukee was one game away from the World Series in 2018.
Opening Day didn’t disappoint. I remember the final moments like it was yesterday. Josh Hader was in his second inning of relief in the bottom of the ninth. It was 5-4 Brewers with two outs. Jose Martinez hits a huge fly ball into deep center field.
Out of nowhere, Lorenzo Cain jumps above the wall to catch it, robbing Martinez of a home run and winning the game for the Brewers. Cain throws the ball as hard as he can into the air, and Milwaukee goes nuts.
It was a crazy game. All of the runs from both teams came off of home runs. Now former Cardinal and current new Brewer second baseman Kolten Wong had two home runs in the game and 3 RBIs. Brewers Opening Day starter Jhoulys Chacin and Mike Moustakas had home runs for the Brewers.
Christian Yelich would join Chacin and Moustakas as well. Yelich hit a 406-foot bomb to center in the bottom of the third inning, which also brought home Chacin and Cain. Yelich would be responsible for three of the five runs for the Crew that game.
Yelich grounded out in the bottom of the first inning and first at bat. After this blast in the third, Yelich was wisely walked by Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas. He would also be walked in the bottom of the eighth inning. For only getting two real chances at the plate, Yelich made them count. A three-run blast and two walks is pretty impressive for Opening Day. It was also a very memorable game for Milwaukee.
More than four months after Major League Baseball shut down in March 2020, the Brewers opened the shortened 60-game season against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 24th, 2020.
This was a game Brewers fans forgot very quickly. As exciting as it was to finally have baseball, it was weird to see a game without fans where everything was different. The Cubs didn’t seem to mind, they won 3-0 after Kyle Hendricks pitched a complete game. He only gave up three hits the entire game.
Yelich grounded out in the first inning. I totally forgot Eric Sogard was leadoff hitter last year. Yelich was up again in the fourth inning. He was up first and struck out, but so did Keston Hiura and Justin Smoak right after him. Hendricks struck out the side, which accounted for three of his nine strike outs on the day. Yelich did at least have a longer at bat and forced a full count.
Another strike out came for Yelich in the sixth after a second straight six-pitch at bat. Orlando Arcia did get a single that inning and gave the Brewers some hope to keep it close, but Sogard and Yelich were not able to get anything going.
The top of the ninth inning was quite random. Arcia singled again and got on base. Then, there were three straight fielder’s choice outs to end the game. Sogard, then Yelich, and then finally Hiura.
Yelich was 0-4 for 2020, but so was most of the team. Nothing was going to stop Hendricks that day, so you can’t really blame him for that.
So what’s in store for Opening Day 2021? Hopefully another repeat of 2019. Yelich looks great so far, and opening up at the new American Family Field with fans this year should help bring some great energy for the All-Star outfielder. Go Brewers, and Go Christian Yelich.