Sat Apr 20 4:40am ET
Two of the top home run hitters in baseball will resume their early-season duel Saturday, though time is running out to see the back-and-forth action.
After the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Brewers in Milwaukee on Saturday, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich will have just one more regular-season game to go head-to-head.
Saturday's game will be the sixth in nine days between the two teams. After Sunday's series finale, they will not see each other again in the regular season. Could they be headed for another playoff matchup after needing seven games to decide last season's National League Championship Series?
Yelich hit his 11th home run in the Brewers 5-3 loss to the Dodgers on Friday. Bellinger and Yelich both went deep in Friday's series opener. And the two showed a mutual respect for each other with a handshake and a hug in the outfield before the series began.
Bellinger did most of his damage early in the season with seven home runs in the Dodgers' first 10 games. Yelich, the reigning NL MVP, hit four home runs in the Brewers' first four games and now has six in his last five games.
All 11 of Yelich's home runs have come in his 12 home games and he tied the Brewers club record for March/April home runs. The Brewers record for any month is 13 by Prince Fielder in May of 2007.
Bellinger's production is also better at home, but it is slightly more balanced. Bellinger's line-drive swing that was apparent in 2017 and in the second half of 2018 has returned. Gone is the uppercut swing he tried to use at the start of last season.
"And (it's) knowing why I feel good, and knowing why I don't feel good," Bellinger said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "Just going into the cage and trying to find it and every day, and trying to stay locked in."
Last year, Yelich showed the consistency that Bellinger is looking for. But even after seeing it for an entire season in 2018, Yelich's teammates are still amazed at how he continues to be a feared run producer even when opposing pitchers know what they are up against.
"Coming in every day, you know something special could happen," Brewers pitcher Zach Davies said, according to mlb.com. "I don't think at this point it even surprises us anymore but it's fun to sit back and watch. I'm sure for him it's even more fun to do it."
Yelich is 2-for-7 with a home run in his career against Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who will return from the disabled list Saturday after recovering from a groin injury. Ryu (2-0, 3.07 ERA) has not faced the Brewers since 2013 when he picked up the victory after giving up two runs over 7 1/3 innings.
Bellinger is unsure who he will face as the Brewers are expected to cover Saturday's game with a number of pitchers, including right-hander Chase Anderson. Bellinger entered Friday 15-for-48 (.313) lifetime against the Brewers with five home runs, 11 RBIs and 12 walks.
Bellinger and Yelich might not see each other for the rest of the year after Sunday but the home run chase figures to continue until October approaches.
"He's a great dude, on and off the field," Bellinger told reporters of Yelich. "It's going to be fun, competing against him all year."
--Field Level Media