April 24, 2013
What You Need to Know
The Tuesday Takeaway
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
Morrow fared relatively well against the Orioles last year, holding them to nine earned runs on 19 hits while amassing a 25-to-7 K:BB over 24 innings, but he was unable to contain Adam Jones, who went 6-for-11 with two home runs in those four games. If Morrow is to turn around his 2013 season tonight, he’ll need to find an answer for Baltimore’s center fielder, who went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts on Tuesday but carries a robust .354/.376/.549 triple-slash line into this evening’s contest.
Among hitters who have faced Morrow at least 25 times in their careers, Jones’ 1.183 OPS stands head and shoulders above the rest, with his teammate, Nick Markakis, ranking second at 839. Jones is 11-for-28 lifetimes versus Morrow with a double and three homers, though he has struck out six times and never walked.
All three of the big flies came on poorly placed fastballs, grooved in locations where Jones—a very good hard-stuff hitter—is at his most dangerous. The first, which came on the second pitch of Jones’ third at-bat on August 6, 2008, was the fate of a four-seamer that could scarcely have been closer to the heart of the zone. The second, four head-to-head plate appearances later, on April 13, 2012, came on a belt-high offering that immediately followed a backed-up slider. And the third, in their most recent meeting, on September 5, 2012, was a fastball right down Broadway, a spot where Jones’ career TAv versus heaters is nearly .400.
This one isn’t rocket science: If Morrow is to right his ship tonight, the key will be better command of his fastball, which has had its familiar 94-mph bite, but has also been the culprit on all four of the gopher balls he has served up this year. Given their history, Morrow’s ability to retire Jones could serve as a useful barometer of his progress (12:35 p.m. ET).
What to Watch for on Wednesday