COMMENTARY | If it's possible to post a statement win in April, the Atlanta Braves did just that by taking both games of their day-night double-header with the Colorado Rockies. The Braves came to town reeling from three straight losses at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates, while the Rockies were flying high with an 8-0 record at home. This series pitted the two teams with the best records in baseball against each other, and Atlanta loudly proclaimed that they are still the top dog right now in the National League.
The temperature never climbed above 30 degrees at Coors Field, yet anyone who wanted to stay warm just needed to stand next to the red-hot Atlanta Braves' bats. The Braves' suddenly silent sticks woke up in a big way by belting six round-trippers during the double-dip. This pushed Atlanta's record to 15-0 when they hit at least one home run. In Game 1, Justin Upton, Dan Uggla and Evan Gattis all went yard in the Braves' 4-3 victory. Mike Minor moved his record to 3-1 as he allowed three runs in six innings of work.
Aside from this game setting a record by being the coldest MLB game ever played in Colorado, the Braves also made a little bit of history on the field. Jason Heyward is out indefinitely after undergoing appendectomy surgery, which meant B.J. Upton would have to slide into the two-hole right in front of his brother Justin. In the fifth inning of Game 2, the Upton brothers made the most of their proximity by becoming the first siblings since 1938 (Lloyd and Paul Waner) to hit back-to-back home runs in a major league game.
The latter half of the Upton's blasts gave Justin 11 dingers for the year. With six game still left to play in April, the younger Upton has now already broken the Braves' franchise record for most home runs during the first month of the season, which was a mark previously set at 10 by both Ryan Klesko and Andreas Galarraga.
"Any time you lose three in a row you want to jump on the next team you play," Justin Upton said. "We jumped out to an early lead. And we kept pressing."
While many people could look at this as just another example of how Atlanta is only good when they hit home runs, a positive sign emerging from the action was that the Braves were actually able to score some runs when they weren't hitting the ball out of the ballpark. Coming into the series, 15 of the last 19 Atlanta runs had come via the home run. While that trend continued in Game 1, the Braves did manufacture six of their 10 runs in Game 2 without having to muscle up and swing for the bleachers.
Another land mine the Braves were happy to sidestep was their anemic hitting with runners in scoring position. They had been 3-29 over the previous five games, however, in Game 2; Atlanta went 3-7 with runners on second or third.
Freddie Freeman was a welcomed sight as he returned to the lineup on Tuesday after spending time on the disabled list with a strained oblique. Freeman was mostly quite, going 1-5 with three walks while playing in both games of the double-header. However, his inclusion back into the Braves' lineup allows manager Fredi Gonzalez the ability to reinsert Freeman into the cleanup spot, which will add more balance to a lineup which had become very right-hand heavy over the last few games.
But of all the great stats and history-making highlights, the thing fans should be most excited about was the play of Julio Teheran. After pitching out of early trouble, the 22-year-old right-hander allowed just one run in seven innings of work in Game 2. The Rockies came into this series having scored the most runs in baseball over their first 18 games (111), yet Teheran kept them in check by exhibiting better command than he had shown in any of his first three starts. Teheran threw 70 of his 90 pitches for strikes and did not walk a single batter.
The Braves will look to sweep the series on Wednesday when Atlanta sends right-hander Tim Hudson to the mound in search of win No. 200 for his career. The Rockies will counter with righty Tyler Chatwood who will be making his first start of the season. Chatwood has a career 4.96 ERA.
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter based in "Braves Country." He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
- Sports & Recreation
- Atlanta Braves
- Justin Upton
- Colorado Rockies