MIAMI — Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers didn’t need this kind of break.
Trying to catch up in the wild card race, the Brewers instead saw the reigning NL MVP foul a ball off himself and go down with a broken right kneecap Tuesday night.
“We don’t have a definitive time frame other than we know he will be out the remainder of the season right now,” general manager David Stearns said after a 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins. “We also don’t know if surgery is required.”
Yelich, who did not talk with reporters after the game, will travel to Milwaukee for additional tests on Wednesday.
The Brewers didn’t say whether Yelich might be able to return for the playoffs that begin Oct. 1 if they make it that far, but a fractured knee cap typically takes several months to recover from.
Milwaukee, which won its fifth in a row, pulled within a game of the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card spot after the Cubs lost to San Diego 9-8 in 10 innings.
Yelich fouled a ball off his leg in the first inning. He was down on the ground for several minutes before limping off the field.
Yelich hit .329 with 44 home runs and 97 RBIs along with 30 stolen bases this season. The outfielder was leading the majors in slugging percentage and OPS when he was hurt.
“We feel awful for Christian,” manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s the thing that resonates with me right now. He’s a special player and it’s a joy to watch him play every day. He’s the best at what he does. Not being able to see that every day is not good.”
The team learned the severity of his injury by the middle of the game.
“I went out there and his whole body was shaking,” Counsell said. “I was concerned and when he got up and went down the stairs I was optimistic. Then we got the bad news.”
Trent Grisham continued Yelich’s at-bat with a 1-2 count and struck out — the strikeout was charged to Yelich.
“Obviously awful, we all know Yeli and what kind of guy he is,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who had Yelich in his final two seasons in Miami before his trade to Milwaukee.
“You hate to see a player like that get hurt down the stretch. He’s stepped into the superstar realm as a player, and MVP last year. You don’t want to see that happen to a team down the stretch.”
“First and foremost, we feel awful for Christian. This is a guy who’s carried us in a number of ways over the last two years,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said. “He could’ve [been] 2½ weeks away from a repeat Most Valuable Player award. So that’s where our thoughts go first.
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“From a team perspective, we’ve got a lot of guys in that clubhouse who will hurt tonight; this is a gut punch for a night. And then we need to recover and play really strong baseball. We’ve been through this before as an organization — two years ago, almost to the day, we lost Jimmy Nelson to a similarly freak injury, and we competed at a very high level for the remainder of that season. And I expect our team to compete at a similarly high level going forward.”
"I just heard. That's not good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after his team's loss. "Listen, I always want to beat other teams at their best, so that's a tough one right there."
It was 3-all when Yasmani Grandal led off the ninth with a single off Miami reliever Adam Conley (2-9) and advanced to third on Grisham’s double. Pinch hitter Tyler Austin’s fly ball to medium center was deep enough to score Grandal.
Junior Guerra (9-5) got the win in two innings of relief while allowing Starlin Castro’s solo homer in the eighth that tied it at 3. Drew Pomeranz pitched a scoreless ninth around two singles for his first save.
Hernan Perez gave the Brewers an early lead with a two-run homer in the second. He connected off Elieser Hernandez for his seventh homer of the season.
Isan Diaz’s RBI double in the Miami second off Chase Anderson made it 2-1.
The Brewers regained their two-run advantage on Grandal’s RBI double in the third before Diaz drove in another run with a single in the fourth.
Grisham will get additional playing time in Yelich's absence. The outfielder tied a team rookie game record with his five-hit outing Monday and his double continued the Brewers' go-ahead rally Tuesday.
"A big blow, what he means to this team and the year he's been having," Grisham said of Yelich's injury. "We wish him the fastest recovery he can get. It's exciting to help contribute and do my best to help win games."
Right-hander Brandon Woodruff (oblique) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday ... Shortstop Orlando Arcia (paternity list) will rejoin the club for the series finale Thursday.
The Brewers on Wednesday will start right-hander Zach Davies (9-7, 3.69), who snapped a five-game losing streak in his previous start, when he limited the Cubs to one run through five innings in a 7-1 win Sept 6.
The Marlins will send out right-hander Pablo Lopez (5-8, 4.75), who benefited from a 16-run support in his previous start of the season against the Brewers on June 4. Lopez pitched six shutout innings in Miami's 16-0 win.