Yelich welcomed Helsley to the big leagues with a three-run homer, his eighth against St. Louis this season, to help send the Milwaukee Brewers to an 8-4 victory on Tuesday night.
“I kind of got lucky,” Yelich said. “I got deep enough in the at-bat where I kind of saw some pitches and had a decent idea of what his stuff was like. But, yeah, he had great stuff, he did a good job after that. Just one of those things.”
Lorenzo Cain and Yasmani Grandal each homered in a five-run third against Jack Flaherty (1-1), when the Brewers went up 5-0.
Yelich, who homered three times on Monday, was the first batter faced by Helsley, who debuted with two on and two outs in the fifth. Yelich fell behind 0-2, evened the count and then fouled off a 98 mph fastball, before sending the next pitch 427 feet to right center for his ninth home run, putting Milwaukee up 8-0.
“I didn’t try to think too much about it,” Helsley said of facing the reigning MVP. “I just wanted to go right at him and attack from the start. I feel like I did that. I hung one pitch and he took advantage of it.”
Yelich is the first player to homer in six consecutive games against the Cardinals. The Brewers have won nine of their last 10 against St. Louis, including four in a row.
“I don’t want to disrespect the rest of their lineup. Cain did damage. Moose has had a good series,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “They are a very capable club. I don’t want to misrepresent that at all. You look at it in a holistic manner, and you remove Yelich, numbers are a lot more favorable. The reality is we can’t do that. We got to be able to figure out a better solution. I keep saying that and we’ve got to do it.”
Brandon Woodruff (2-1) held the Cardinals scoreless until Marcell Ozuna’s two-run homer, his seventh, with one out in the sixth. Woodruff allowed two runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out six.
“I thought his stuff was really good tonight,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Slider was good to righties, his change was good to lefties. His fastball was obviously located very well.”
The Cardinals added two in the eighth on RBI singles by Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong.
Cain opened the third inning with his second homer. Ryan Braun doubled under the glove of third baseman Matt Carpenter with one out. After Mike Moustakas struck out, Grandal followed with his fifth homer, a two-run shot to right.
The Brewers loaded the bases on singles by Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar and a walk to Orlando Arcia. Woodruff then laced a two-run double over the bag at first, his fifth hit in his first six at-bats this season.
“That huge 5-spot, it’s good to kind of settle in and then have another fairly quick inning and put a zero up after that,” Woodruff said. “That’s huge for the team and kind of knocks the momentum out of them.”
Flaherty was tagged for five runs on nine hits and needed 75 pitches to get though 2 2/3 innings.
Cardinals: RHP Mike Mayers (right shoulder strain) was placed on the 10-day injured list. OF Tyler O’Neill (right elbow ulnar nerve) also was placed on the 10-day IL. … OF Harrison Bader was out of the lineup for the third straight game with an ailing right hamstring. “I know at least day-to-day,” Shildt said. “Staying away from him today.”
Brewers: RHP Freddy Peralta (right shoulder sprain) was placed on the 10-day injured list. Peralta started Monday and gave up three runs on four hits with three walks in 3 1/3 innings. “He was having some pain last night during the game, so there’s some inflammation in there that we had to calm down,” Counsell said. “Don’t expect it to be long term. It should definitely be on the shorter end here. So he’ll rest for a couple days and then he should be able to start throwing pretty soon.”
INF/OF Drew Robinson was optioned to Triple-A Memphis. INF/OF Yairo Munoz, RHP Giovanny Gallegos, and RHP Helsley all were recalled from Memphis. Helsley, who had a 3.86 ERA in two starts at Memphis, will be used out of the bullpen. “You’re talking about a young man with plus velocity,” Shildt said. “Plus, plus. Out of the bullpen he’s got every opportunity to hit 98-100 with some life to it.”
RHP Jake Petricka was optioned to Class-A Wisconsin. RHP Jeremy Jeffress (right shoulder) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. RHP Aaron Wilkerson was recalled from Triple-A San Antonio.
Although he struck out in is final at-bat, Woodruff is 5 for 7 on the season, hitting .714 with two doubles. Brewers pitchers are batting .367 (11 for 30) and lead the majors in hits by pitchers. “Any time you get to run the bases, that means something good is happening,” Woodruff said. “Hopefully, we get to do it a lot more.”
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (0-0, 5.28) starts the series finale at Miller Park on Wednesday afternoon. He allowed seven runs on eight hits, including three homers, in 3 2/3 innings in his last start. Wacha is 5-0 in 12 career games against the Brewers, including 11 starts.
Brewers: RHP Corbin Burnes (0-1, 10.05) has allowed three home runs in each of his first three starts in a total of 14 1/3 innings. Opponents are batting .339 against him, although the Brewers are 2-1 in his starts.