Justin Upton homers, 4 for 4 as Braves blank Marlins
Justin Upton is hitting enough for an entire team.
The slugging outfielder went 4 for 4, including his sixth home run, and Paul Maholm allowed one hit in seven innings to help the Atlanta Braves spoil the Miami Marlins’ home opener Monday night by winning 2-0.
Upton scored both runs and doubled the Marlins’ hit total. The Braves won despite going 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
“We’ve only got about three guys hitting on all cylinders,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We won today with Justin doing all the damage.”
Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves Could Have Postseason Disadvantage
As a group, the five-man rotation of Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Maholm, Mike Minor, and rookie phenom Julio Teheran rank up there with the best in the game. Though the team doesn’t have a dominant ace like Clayton Kershaw or Justin Verlander, they are still very good from one through five. And that’s the very reason why the one-game playoff instituted by MLB last season is a horrible idea.
The Braves have a rotation that is built to win a series, and that’s how the game of baseball is played for the entire sixth-month season. The one-game playoff, although very exciting, rewards teams with a dominant top-of-the-line starter rather than a consistent staff, which is a necessity for 162 games. A team like Atlanta, with an all-around strong rotation, is at a disadvantage in such a format. Look no further than last season, when they were ousted from postseason play having never been able to send Hudson, Minor, or Tommy Hanson to the mound.
So I guess the answer then is to win the division; and that’s something that is well within the Braves’ reach—especially after the way opening week has played out.
9 Lessons From Baseball’s First Week
- Chris Davis‘s breakout was for real
- Roy Halladay might actually be done…
- …But Chase Utley isn’t
- The Red Sox are better than we thought
- The Yankees are just as bad (and maybe worse) than we feared
- Bryce Harper, not Mike Trout, is poised to become the best player in baseball
- Texas does not like Josh Hamilton
- A healthy Mike Morse is a force to be reckoned with
- Justin Upton is a legit MVP candidate, his disappointing 2012 notwithstanding
30 Players, 30 Teams – Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves – Craig Kimbrel – Closer
Acquired: Draft – 3rd Round (96th overall) 2008 Amateur Draft
Signed Through: 2016 (Pre-Arbitration Eligible)
MLB Debut: June 6, 2008
Kimbrel is the rare closer that when he comes into the game, most offenses feel like they are done. Last season, Kimbrel authored a closer’s season for the ages, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.01 ERA, a 3.2 bWAR, and an astronimical 16.7 K/9 ratio. He converted 42 of 45 save opportunities. Kimbrel surrendered just 7 total runs in 63 appearances.
…The Braves will once again look to their 24-year-old anchor to provide stability and leadership to the back-end of their bullpen. With a revamped line-up that included bothJustin Upton and B.J. Upton, Kimbrel will see plenty of save opportunities in the years to come.And the man with the triple-digit gas will be more than happy to convert them.
Atlanta Braves Minor League Action
Gwinnett Braves 1, Durham Bulls 2
- Todd Cunningham CF 2-4, SB (1), .235 AVG
- Matt Pagnozzi C 1-3, BB, .250 AVG
- Omar Poveda 6 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA
- Yohan Flande 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 2.25 ERA
Omar Poveda’s first start in a Braves uniform was a great one, as he tossed 6 shutout innings, striking out 4. The 25 year old righty split last year between AA and AAA for the Marlins. Todd Cunningham followed up yesterday’s 2 hit performance with another 2 hit day.