MILWAUKEE (AP) — Ryan Braun stood in the on-deck circle, smiled and shook his head in disbelief as Christian Yelich crossed the plate after hitting his second home run of the game against Los Angeles on Saturday.
“I was just laughing. He is impossibly good right now,” Braun said. “He’s making something that’s incredibly difficult look really easy. You kind of shake your head. What he’s doing is incredibly impressive.”
Yelich pushed his major league-leading home run total to 13 with a pair of solo shots, and Chase Anderson pitched five strong innings in a spot start as the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Dodgers 5-0.
“It’s getting to the point where it literally doesn’t make sense,” Braun said of Yelich’s early season performance.
The Brewers, who ended the Dodgers’ six-game winning streak, got on the board in the third when Yelich homered with two out against Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-1), breaking the franchise record for home runs in March and April, set by Eric Thames in 2017.
Yelich hit Ryu’s first pitch of the sixth into the right-field seats for a 2-0 lead. His 13 homers in the first month of the season matched the franchise record for home runs in single month, set by Prince Fielder in May 2007.
The reigning NL MVP had Brewers manager Craig Counsell shaking his head, too.
“I expected him to get off to a good start and continue what he was doing last year,” Counsell said. “He’s surpassing anything we could draw up or imagine right now.”
The soft-spoken Yelich said he’s not focused on his record-breaking accomplishments.
“I don’t look at the records or anything like that. It’s one day at a time and focus on the moment,” Yelich said.
Braun added a three-run homer for the Brewers, who snapped a three-game losing streak. His homer in the seventh off Caleb Ferguson came after Lorenzo Cain’s two-out double and an intentional walk to Yelich, despite what would have been a difficult lefty-on-lefty matchup.
“I have a ton of respect for Ryan Braun but (Ferguson) has weapons to get lefties and righties out, so when you have a guy who’s swinging a considerably hotter bat, you’ve got to take your chance with the other guy,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We didn’t execute a pitch and Braun took a good swing on it.”
Anderson got the call to fill the rotation spot of Freddy Peralta, who is out with a right shoulder injury. He allowed just one hit, a single to Joc Pederson to lead off the game. Anderson (2-0) retired 15 of the next 17 batters before being lifted for a pinch hitter. He walked two batters and struck out five.
Alex Claudio, Junior Guerra and Matt Albers combined to pitch four innings of one-hit relief.
Ryu, who had been dealing with a strained left groin, was activated from the 10-day injured list to start on Saturday. He gave up six hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings while walking one and striking out nine.
REDEMPTION FOR ANDERSON
Anderson was the Brewers opening day starter in 2018, but by late season had been removed from the rotation and left off the playoff roster. His performance against the Dodgers offered some redemption. “Going back to not making the post-season roster and being shut down last year. Being put in the bullpen to start the season. I knew that was the better move for the team,” Anderson said. “A lot of guys around here told me I handled it well, but inside it was tough to handle. But getting to this point and getting an opportunity to start today, I was grateful and thankful to come up big for the team and help us win.”
Dodgers: Plans to have LHP Rich Hill (left knee MCL strain) make a rehab start on Monday at either Triple-A Oklahoma City or Double-A Tulsa have been scrapped due to the forecast calling for bad weather. Instead, Hill will pitch at extended spring training in Arizona on Monday.
Brewers: 3B Mike Moustakas left the game in the seventh inning with right-hand discomfort. . RHP Jimmy Nelson (right shoulder) will pitch Monday at extended spring training in Arizona. . Peralta reported no problems after a throwing session on Saturday.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (0-0, 2.57 ERA) will make his second start of the season after opening on the injured list with left shoulder inflammation. Kershaw is 6-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 14 career regular season starts against the Brewers.
Brewers: RHP Brandon Woodruff (2-1, 5.23) will make his fifth start of the season and first against the Dodgers in the finale of the four-game series. He doesn’t have a quality start, and opponents are hitting .280 against him. He made three relief appearances against Los Angeles in last year’s NLCS.