MILWAUKEE (AP) — It’s going down to the last day of the regular season to decide the NL Central.
The Milwaukee Brewers moved into a tie for first place with the Chicago Cubs with one game remaining, getting two homers from Triple Crown candidate Christian Yelich to beat the Detroit Tigers 6-5 on Saturday night.
Yelich turned on an 0-1 pitch from left-hander Daniel Stumpf (1-5) and lined it into the second deck in right to break a 5-all tie in the seventh inning. The left-handed slugger also hit a two-run homer in the third inning of the Brewers’ sixth straight win.
Seemed like a good time for the typically even-keeled Yelich to show some emotion in a curtain call.
“First one ever, so. I don’t really know what to do,” Yelich said.
The raucous fans at Miller Park chanted “MVP! MVP!” after Yelich’s go-ahead shot in the seventh. He obliged with a brief appearance, lifting his helmet in the air about halfway up the dugout steps.
“Everyone was yelling at me to get up there, so I went up there really quick and went right back down,” he said.
The Brewers (94-67) were already assured of making their first playoff appearance since 2011, the last time they won the NL Central. They sure would like to get into the postseason again as a division winner, and Chicago opened the door by losing 2-1 to St. Louis earlier Saturday.
“Yeah I’m sure it will be pretty crazy,” Yeich said about what to expect on Sunday at Miller Park. “You play all those games and it still comes down to 162.”
If the Brewers and Cubs are still tied after Sunday, the teams will face each other on Monday in Chicago for the title.
The NL MVP race, on the other hand, may be over after Yelich’s September to remember.
He extended his hitting streak to 10 games, going 2 for 3 and driving in three.
The NL batting leader is also challenging for a Triple Crown , tied with St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter for the home run lead at 36. With 109 RBIs, Yelich is two behind the Cubs’ Javier Baez.
“We’re sitting here every night and I say it’s reached a new level and then it reaches a new level. It’s just special, man,” manager Craig Counsell said.
Joakim Soria (3-1) got the win with a scoreless seventh. Jeremy Jeffress picked up his 15th save, striking out the side in the ninth.
The bullpen held the Tigers scoreless over the final three innings after a few shaky moments in the middle of the game.
Seventh-place hitter Dawel Lugo lined a triple into the right-field corner to lead off the sixth. Pete Kozma, a .209 hitter, then drove in Lugo with a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game at 5.
But the Brewers bounced back behind Yelich again.
“I just went with what was feeling good tonight and I got ahead and I ended up spinning one up there. That one didn’t go in my favor,” Stumpf said.
CALL IT A COMEBACK
Yelich also helped spark a comeback from a 3-0 hole in the third. He homered into the Brewers’ bullpen in left after leadoff hitter Lorenzo Cain hit an infield single to draw within 3-2. The Brewers strung together four straight hits in a three-run fourth, capped by Kratz’s two-run single.
Niko Goodrum had an RBI single in the first and a two-run triple down the right-field line in third to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Starter Daniel Norris retired eight of the first nine batters before running into trouble after giving up Cain’s infield single with two outs in the third.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said the close games in an electric atmosphere will help his young team in the future.
“You need to see what it’s like. It makes you hungry to get back,” he said.
Tigers: After sitting out Friday, OF Christin Stewart was shut down for the final two games of the weekend with an abdominal strain.
Tigers: Rookie Spencer Turnbull (0-1) takes the mound for the season finale. The right-hander recorded his first quality start in the majors on Tuesday, allowing one run on six hits in six innings against Minnesota.
Brewers: Counsell named LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-11) the starter for the finale. Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in four starts since being acquired in a trade with the Washington Nationals.
“For me, I try to take it as just another day, give them whatever they need,” Gonzalez said, “and after that, rely on the team.”