If it feels like you’ve heard that before, it’s because you have.
Yelich became the first player in MLB history to hit for the cycle three times against the same team, completing the feat with a triple amid a six-run ninth inning in the Brewers’ 14-11 loss on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park. Trouble was, the Brewers had just surrendered six runs to the Reds in the eighth, and Yelich & Co. departed Cincinnati with a second straight series loss.
“I thought we were going to get it, man,” said right fielder Hunter Renfroe, who homered twice in a losing effort. “Everybody was looking for a helmet to grab and go up there and swing it.”
No one swung it as well as Yelich.
“Yelich had a freakin’ cycle. That’s incredible,” Renfroe said. “That’s a once in a lifetime thing. He’s done it three times in the big leagues. That’s crazy.”
The Reds know all about it. Yelich hit for the cycle against them twice in 2018 in the span of three weeks. Wednesday’s version — double in the first inning, three-run home run in the third, single in the fifth and triple in the ninth — was the 10th cycle in Brewers history but the first to come in a loss.
That took much of the joy out of it for Yelich, though it still represented MLB history. In the modern era (since 1900), only five players — Bob Meusel, Babe Herman, Adrian Beltre, Trea Turner and Yelich — have hit for three cycles. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there’s a sixth. Long John Reilly, one of the original Cincinnati Reds in the late 1800s, also hit for the cycle three times.
No hitter has cycled four times.
“I was DHing, so I was kind of joking around with some of the guys on the bench [who said], ‘Hey, all you have to do is hit a triple now.’” Yelich said. “There’s really only one spot to do it here, just kind of yank it in the corner. …
“Once I saw it go that way, I knew as long as I didn’t trip and fall around the bases I would probably get to third.”
As Yelich dug in for that at-bat, the Brewers were in the middle of the latest big inning of a wild ballgame. The Reds scored four unearned runs in the first inning after Milwaukee third baseman Luis Urías whiffed a double-play bouncer — “I don’t know what happened, to be honest,” Urías said — and Renfroe and center fielder Lorenzo Cain both converged on Tyler Naquin’s drifting three-run triple but neither caught it.
“He hit it off his shoelaces,” Renfroe said. “It’s one of those things where it’s a tough ball for both of us, but if one of us takes charge there maybe we get underneath it and find the wall a little quicker. But it’s part of it.”
Renfroe reclaimed some of those runs with his seventh and eighth home runs of the season, and Yelich hit a three-run shot for home run No. 5 of his campaign. Jace Peterson and pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau went deep in the ninth before Yelich came to the plate and completed his cycle.
Unfortunately for the Brewers, they began the ninth inning in a 14-5 hole. The Reds had just scored six runs off recent callups J.C. Mejía and Luis Perdomo after Mejía walked the bases loaded.
“We battled,” Yelich said. “Weird things happen in baseball. … But any time you hit for the cycle, it’s pretty cool. You try and enjoy it as much as possible.”
Wednesday’s outburst was the latest in a series of promising signs for Yelich, whose 138 weighted runs created plus is up over last year’s 101, and whose .482 slugging percentage follows a career-worst .373. Yelich already has as many line drives and fly balls north of 110 mph as he had all of last season, the Brewers’ television broadcast noted this week.
“Put the work in, keep grinding, just put your head down and go underwater,” he said.
It was a wave analogy, Yelich explained.
“That means when you have a good day, you don’t really ride the high. When you have a bad day, you don’t get too low,” he said. “It’s such a long season and there’s so many ups and downs, to have a good year takes a really long time. You just kind of go underwater, put your work in, do the best you can, try to be the best version of yourself every day and when the season’s over, you look up, you come out of the water and see what happened and where you stand.
“It takes a long time to learn that, and it’s easy to say, but it’s hard to do. I’m trying to make an effort to do that this year.”
Said Renfroe: “He has looked like the MVP Yelich. It’s fun to watch him, that’s for sure. If he keeps going, we are going to win a lot of games. There’s no question.”