Upton Brothers Hit Back-To-Back Home Runs
DENVER (AP) — In their first season with the Atlanta Braves, Justin and B.J. Upton have become the new bash brothers.
The power-hitting siblings cracked back-to-back homers for the first time, leading Atlanta past the Colorado Rockies 10-2 Tuesday night to complete a doubleheader sweep that began with the coldest game at Coors Field.
“It’s always cool when you can see him have success before you and then you go up and do the same thing,” said Justin Upton, acquired as part of a seven-player trade with Arizona in January. “It was definitely cool for us to tack on those runs when we needed them. That was nice.”
It was the 27th time in major league history that brothers homered in the same game, but only the second time they went deep in consecutive at-bats. Lloyd and Paul Waner of the Pittsburgh Pirates also accomplished the feat on Sept. 15, 1938.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Uptons were displaying the kind of 1-2 punch that the Braves were hoping for when they acquired them. B.J. Upton was signed as a free agent last winter.
“It makes your lineup a lot better when you’ve got B.J. going and you’ve got Justin, too,” Gonzalez said. “For me, Justin is your No. 3 hitter and it doesn’t matter who is on the mound that night.”
Or what the weather is like, for that matter.
In the first game, Justin Upton, Dan Uggla and rookie Evan Gattis homered in support of a solid outing by Mike Minor as the Braves won 4-3 in a game that began with a temperature of 23 degrees.
The weather warmed up for the night game — but only a bit. It was 30 degrees at first pitch.
In the nightcap, B.J. Upton homered to left field off Jon Garland to start the fifth inning, his third of the season. Justin Upton drove Garland’s next pitch to center for his major league-leading 11th home run.
“Mistakes,” Garland said. “Maybe a wrong choice of pitches. When you miss with pitches, good hitters will get you.”
Said Justin Upton: “I’m just trying to be part of a team that was already good. I can’t put my thumb as to why I have hit the way I have; just got to continue to work and try to keep it up.”
B.J. Upton was getting treatment and not available to reporters after the nightcap.
The Uptons have homered in the same game three times this season. They each added another RBI later in the game, B.J. on a sixth-inning sacrifice fly and Justin on a ninth-inning double that was part of a four-run burst.
The Braves outhomered the Rockies 6-0 in taking both games from Colorado, which entered the twinbill tied with Atlanta for the best record in baseball at 13-5.
“This Atlanta team, you have to try to keep them in the yard. We had a tough time doing that today,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “Six homers in two games. That is what they do if it’s for a strike and they are locked in.”
Julio Teheran (1-0) made the most of his offensive support in the nightcap, allowing one run over seven innings to quiet the Rockies, who have lost three in a row at Coors Field since an 8-0 start at home.
The Braves also got a home run and run-scoring double from Juan Francisco. His two-run shot in the fourth came after Freddie Freeman drew a one-out walk. Colorado had broken on top with an RBI single by Michael Cuddyer in the third.
Garland (2-1) went six innings and allowed six runs on 10 hits.
Reed Johnson, playing right field for Atlanta in the opener because Jason Heyward underwent an appendectomy Monday night, went 4 for 4 with three doubles. Heyward was put on the 15-day disabled list.
The matchup featured baseball’s hottest teams — and the coldest game-time temperature in the majors since such data collection began in 1991, according to STATS. The Rockies said the previous low at Coors Field was 28 degrees.
Donning a short-sleeve jersey with his standard T-shirt underneath while many other players were bundled up, Minor (3-1) allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He said he decided against warmer attire because he wanted the same freedom of movement he feels with his arms uncovered.
“I don’t know what it is, but with (long) sleeves on, I feel restricted,” he said. “It’s just a feeling and you want to feel comfortable out there.”
To a degree, anyway.
“It was all right,” Minor said. “The biggest thing was grip, just being cold and dry. I pretty much just battled through it.”
At one point, Minor acknowledged he got so cold that he had a trainer rub his back, arms and thighs with a heating ointment.
“I was burning up there,” he said with a smile.
By the time Craig Kimbrel pitched a one-hit ninth for his eighth save in eight chances, the temperature had warmed up to 27.
Gattis hit a tiebreaking home run in the fourth and ended the game by throwing out Wilin Rosario trying to steal second.
Jeff Francis (1-2) gave up four runs and six hits in four innings, leaving him with an 8.44 ERA.
Ground crews began working around 6 a.m. to clear several inches of snow from the playing surface at Coors Field, which opened in 1995. While there was no sign of snow on the field when the game started, some parts of the ballpark remained closed, including the snow-filled Rockpile section in center.
Workers hosed off the snow on the stand of evergreen trees beyond the center-field wall. It was important that the trees be cleared because they’re part of the green batters’ eye background.
It’s been a wintry April for Denver, which has been hit by a wave of snowy weather over the past nine days that forced postponements of games three times. The delays led to two doubleheaders within a week.
NOTES: Justin Upton’s 11 homers in April are the most by a Braves player. … Gattis leads all major league rookies with six home runs and has homered in every park he’s played in so far (Colorado, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Washington and Miami). … The Rockies were 0-3 at home against the Braves last year and 1-6 overall. … It isn’t always freezing at Coors Field. According to the Rockies, the hottest game played here was 100 degrees last June 25 when Colorado hosted Washington.
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