|ESPN.com: Buster Olney||[Print without images]|
|B.J. Upton is batting just .153 with a .236 OBP this season in Atlanta.|
Just before last Sunday night's game, Atlanta Braves hitting coach Greg Walker stood at the mouth of the dugout and talked about B.J. Upton's complicated, dysfunctional swing. Upton's front foot wasn't getting down quickly enough -- toes and heel -- and as he moved to attack the many pitches he missed, his front hip tended to turn out, like a door swinging open, far too soon before the ball got to home plate. And because of that, his bat followed, dragging out of the strike zone.
This is largely the reason why Upton has struggled so badly against anybody with a decent fastball in the past couple of years. His swing has probably been in the strike zone a minimal amount of time for a majority of his at-bats. Upton had been working on repairing his swing in the days leading up to his benching last week, and when he did side work and took batting practice, it would all look better. But once the games started, the adrenaline of the competition was added in and broke down everything.
Walker raved about Upton's work to fix the swing, to fix all of these various issues. "He'll get it," Walker said. "He'll get there."
So it was interesting to see Upton's game-winning, walk-off hit in Saturday's victory over the Nationals. Upton, with a slightly open stance, gets his front foot down with something of a double-tap, and while he doesn't anchor his heel to the ground -- something he has been working toward -- Upton's front side stays in place, and doesn't turn out too early. He's in position to take the ball to right field.
It's a better swing; it's a better at-bat. It's a sign that Upton could be getting better, as Walker predicted.
This Sunday, we've got the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, with Clay Buchholz pitching against Hiroki Kuroda.
• Fredi Gonzalez says Upton had good at-bats the whole game.
• Phil Hughes got crushed, and the Yankees have lost six of their past seven games.
• Preston Claiborne was a bright spot for the Yankees, writes Stephen Lorenzo. He still hasn't issued a walk, 11 games into his career.
• Bud Norris continues to build his trade value. Posting that kind of ERA on a struggling team is going to make him even more attractive. Houston has won four straight, and counting -- and it's won five of eight games against the Angels.
• The news keeps getting worse for Washington: Bryce Harper was placed on the disabled list, and Stephen Strasburg may miss at least one start, writes Adam Kilgore. Washington is at .500.
• Miguel Cabrera had another productive day, and it helped lead to Jason Hammel's ejection. Here's the video of Hammel hitting Matt Tuiasosopo.
• Cabrera just keeps tacking on numbers.
• The Dodgers lost another outfielder, their manager and a game.
From ESPN Stats and Information:
1. The Tigers hit four home runs in the fourth inning against the Orioles (Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila back-to-back-to-back and Cabrera grand slam). It's the first time the Tigers have at least four home runs in a single inning since Sept. 10, 1986, against the Brewers (Chet Lemon, Mike Heath, Kirk Gibson and Darnell Coles).
2. From the Elias Sports Bureau: The Tigers are the first team to hit back-to-back-to-back HRs and also hit a grand slam in same inning since the Pirates did so against the Cardinals on Aug. 20, 2003.
3. From Elias: The Tigers scored eight runs in the fourth inning before recording an out. The last team to do that was the Pirates on May 17, 2009, against the Rockies.
4. Miguel Cabrera becomes the 10th player in Tigers history with at least 200 home runs. His 65 RBIs through 54 games is the also most in Tigers history -- one more than Hank Greenberg in 1935.
5. Justin Verlander earned his eighth straight win versus the Orioles. That ties Todd Stottlemyre for the second most to start a career since the Orioles moved to Baltimore.
1. Zack Wheeler may be on his way to the big leagues.
2. Anthony Rendon was promoted to Triple-A.
3. Jon Rauch signed with the Orioles.
4. The Braves are talking with a handful of teams about a possible Juan Francisco deal.
1. Jimmy Rollins is hurting.
2. Jesus Montero needs knee surgery.
3. Brandon Morrow landed on the disabled list. The Jays shuffled their pitching lineup.
4. Giancarlo Stanton seems to be making progress.
5. Adrian Beltre has a stiff hamstring.
1. The Phillies have lost three straight, and counting.
2. Carlos Marmol gave up a grand slam.
3. Ryan Doumit made a profit off one of his teammates.
• The Mets have been getting wrecked since they stopped playing the Yankees.
• It's Harvey Day for the Mets, writes Ken Davidoff.
• Jose Fernandez was outstanding.
• Mike Leake was dominant.
• The Pirates have spent money, but have seen mixed draft results.
• Jason Grilli has been giving hitters the slip.
• A blown call helped the Brewers.
• The Cardinals shut down the Giants in a doubleheader and solidified their place as the top team in the majors right now.
• Mike Matheny prefers experience in the ninth inning.
• Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller shut down the Giants.
From ESPN Stats and Info, how they won:
• Wainwright kept the ball down: 52 percent of his pitches were down in the zone, most this season. Seven of his 10 K's were from pitches in that zone.
• Wainwright was tough on lefties: They were 3-for-17 with 6 K's. This season he has 45 K's versus lefties, second in the NL.
• Wainwright got ahead early: He threw 21 first-pitch strikes. This season he's thrown 227 such pitches, most in MLB.
• Shelby Miller had a live fastball: He recorded six strikeouts with the pitch. This season he has 57 K's with his fastball, most in MLB.
• He used his defense: A career-high 20 balls were put in play (eight grounders, eight flies and four line drives).
• He had good accuracy: A career-high 63 percent of his pitches were in the zone, but batters were just 6-for-22 against those pitches.
• Todd Helton has hit June with work to do, writes Troy Renck.
• Rex Brothers is doing great work for the Rockies.
• A make-do start paid off for the Padres.
• Paul Goldschmidt did some damage.
• The Giants were swept.
• Matt Cain allowed seven earned runs in six innings against the Cardinals, which may not come as a surprise.
• The Giants are wondering if Matt Cain is tipping pitches.
• Two pitchers have benefited from working with John Farrell, writes Tyler Kepner.
• Daniel Nava has always believed in himself, writes Brian MacPherson.
• Felix Doubront owns the Yankees.
• Chris Archer had a bad day.
• Jason Giambi is proving he's worth the risk for Terry Francona, writes Sheldon Ocker.
• George Brett has a tall task.
• Ubaldo Jimenez was fantastic for the Indians, throwing eight shutout innings, Dennis Manoloff writes.
From ESPN Stats and Info, how he won:
• Nasty splitter: He threw six splitters with two strikes and recorded five K's with the pitch, his most among any start since 2009.
• Tough on lefties: They were just 1-for-12 against him and accounted for four of his seven strikeouts.
• Robbie Ross lost for the first time.
• Lance Berkman was ejected.
• Oakland won in another walk-off.
• The Houston Astros are closing in on their draft decision.
• The decision to give up a draft pick to sign Kyle Lohse must not feel so good in the Brewers' front office.
• Byron Buxton is the next big thing.
• George Kottaras has won my utmost respect.
• Vanderbilt won again.
• There was a terrible assault at Camden Yards.
And today will be better than yesterday.