The Brewers headed into Friday knowing they had a chance to clinch the NL Central with a win and Cubs loss. The Cubs won their game during the day, so by the time the Brewers played, they knew they could only trim the magic number to one. Still, they came out and left no doubt in an utterly dominant 16-1 win over the Marlins. They did clinch a playoff berth, though the division crown remains the goal.
With over a week left to play and the Brewers needing only one win or a Cubs loss, their quest for the division title is down to formality status. It'll happen. It's just a matter of when. That storyline ended up taking a back seat to two different items on Friday, too.
1. The Brewers had a 12-run inning.
2. The emphatic return of Christian Yelich to the lineup.
We'll deal with the obscenity that was a 12-run inning first.
It started innocently enough with a Willy Adames walk. Josh Donaldson followed with a homer. After a strikeout, the (kind of) station-to-station baseball started up for a second. It went walk, walk, single, double, double, single, single, groundout, single and double to make the score 10-0. And then Yelich stepped to the plate with a runner on and homered to cap off the scoring. That was a 12-run third inning. The Brewers' social media team put together a less-than-two-minute highlight package of the whole thing:
As noted, each of the nine Brewers got a hit in the inning with five of hits being of the extra-bases variety. The 12 runs in an inning wasn't actually a Brewers record. It was tied for the second-most, as they had a 13-run inning on June 8, 1990 thanks to some big work from the likes of Gary Sheffield, Robin Yount and Jim Gantner.
Let's now zero in on Yelich. We know how important he is to the Brewers when he's going well. He was good in May and outstanding in June and July this season, providing some visions of the old MVP-caliber Yelich. He struggled badly in September and then missed 12 of the past 13 games due to a back injury.
Friday was his return to the lineup. He went 3 for 4 with a double, two homers, five RBI and four runs. He also drew a walk. The second homer was a prodigious shot to dead center, clocking in at 430 feet:
The Brewers were already going to win the NL Central. The 12 runs in an inning were obviously pretty surreal to witness and Brewers fans surely had a blast. However, the single most important thing to come out of this game was the way Yelich looked at the plate.
The Brewers have an excellent stable of starting pitchers, led by a pair of aces -- possibly three, depending on which version of Freddy Peralta takes the hill -- and they are followed by good setup men and a stellar closer. They are fully capable of making a deep playoff run if the offense can mount a consistent attack. They have been scoring runs in bunches lately even without Yelich, but they aren't a scary bunch without Yelich serving as the catalyst atop the order.
Friday night was a huge step in the right direction for the Brewers on that front.