With 2 games to go, Yelich nearing 100 RBIs

With 2 games to go, Yelich nearing 100 RBIs

WASHINGTON -- With all the organization is going through right now, Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich is having a difficult time celebrating individual milestones.

But in terms of the big picture, reaching 100 RBIs would still be significant. Yelich moved closer to the benchmark with a home run and two RBIs on Friday in the Marlins' 7-4 win over Washington at Nationals Park.

Yelich now has 97 RBIs, and he has two games to pick up the remaining three.

"It doesn't matter to me, it really doesn't," Yelich said. "We're just trying to finish up these last two games as strong as possible. Really just play as hard as we can every night and see what happens. It's no secret that we've all had a tough week around here. It's not easy to go out there and play right now."

Yelich had never driven in more than 54 runs (2014) before his power started to emerge this season. His 21 homers are also a career high.

The Marlins are playing with mixed emotions because it's hard to focus completely on baseball while the franchise mourns Jose Fernandez's death.

On Thursday, the team attended Fernandez's funeral before going back to business on Friday.

"It's what we know," Yelich said. "It kind of gives you a three-hour break from all this. You're with the guys just trying to play baseball again, and focus on it."

Manager Don Mattingly makes no secret he'd like to see his 24-year-old center fielder reach the century mark.

"It's a number for players you shoot for," Mattingly said. "I know myself, it was just one of those numbers. You want to drive in 100 runs. It's a benchmark kind of number."

Yelich produced a sacrifice fly in the third inning, and he homered off Sean Burnett in the seventh. The left-handed-hitting outfielder, who is batting .294, has been the club's most consistent player all season.

Yelich's sacrifice fly

If Yelich continues to hit for power, it's only a matter of time before he becomes an All-Star.

"In Miami, and at this point in his career, he's not going to get a lot of attention by not playing in the postseason or being in the pennant race down the stretch, where he gets more national attention," Mattingly said. "But, within baseball circles, to people who watch the game and pay close attention, if Yelly was one of those guys who would be out in the free-agent market, it would be, watch out right now. It would be crazy. I'm glad he's with us. He's just a really good hitter."

Reaching 100 RBIs would be a fitting cap to Yelich's most impactful season.

"It's not really going to change the year he's had," Mattingly said. "He's had a really, really good year. He's making some breakthroughs, power-wise. It's a nice round number, kind of like hitting .300. If you hit .300 or drive in 100, it's something we'll protect guys at these last few games, if they can hold on to that. We're hoping that Yelly gets there."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.