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April 24, 2013

What You Need to Know

Bash Brothers

by Daniel Rathman


The Tuesday Takeaway
It didn’t take long for the Braves, who arrived in Colorado with the bitter taste of three consecutive losses at the hands of the Pirates in their mouths, to wash the skid away and begin a new string of wins. Both teams entered Tuesday’s doubleheader with a 13-5 ledger, tops in the National League, but after snagging both ends of the twin bill, Fredi Gonzalez’s squad is back to looking like the class of the senior circuit.

If the awards voting for the 2013 season were held today, Justin Upton might take home the hardware in unanimous fashion. With nine homers already under his belt, the right fielder took full advantage of the thin air at Coors Field on Tuesday, smacking a round tripper in both games to extend his major-league lead. Meanwhile, although the elder B.J. Upton is batting a far more pedestrian .160/.229/.320, he had a hand in enhancing the significance of his brother’s fifth-inning blast.

The Upton siblings previously made history on April 6, when B.J. delivered a game-tying home run leading off the ninth inning and Justin sent the Turner Field fans home happy with a walk-off shot minutes later. On that night, they became the first pair of brothers in major-league history to turn a defeat into a victory in that thrilling style. Last night, they joined Lloyd Waner and Paul Waner as the second brotherly duo to produce back-to-back jacks—and since Justin’s solo shot to right-center field came on the first offering he saw from Jon Garland, the Uptons did their yardwork on consecutive pitches.

Those two taters pushed the Braves’ lead in the nightcap to 5-2, and a four-run ninth inning brought it to 10-2, the game’s final score. Coupled with a 4-3 victory in the matinee, the sweep improved Atlanta’s road record to 9-3; no other National League team has yet earned more than five victories on the road without losing at least six along the way.

Freddie Freeman came off the disabled list on Tuesday, but Jason Heyward—who underwent an appendectomy on Monday—took his place on it. Yet, amid the latest dose of adversity, the Braves just kept on rolling. They’ll go for their fourth sweep of the season behind Tim Hudson, who has allowed only four home runs in 64 1/3 innings at Coors Field, this afternoon (3:10 p.m. ET).

Matchup of the Day
After a strong 2012 season, in which Brandon Morrow posted a career-low 2.96 ERA, the right-hander’s 2013 is off to an inauspicious start, as he has coughed up at least five runs in two of his last three outings. The 28-year-old’s .361 BABIP portends improved results, but his 31.6 percent ground-ball rate, the sixth-lowest among all starting pitchers in the early going, must tick up in order for him to more effectively keep the ball in the yard.

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