Justin Upton’s at-bats have become must-see viewing, not just for Braves fans but teammates.
They say they make sure not to be using the restroom or otherwise occupied when Upton comes to the plate. The left fielder is hitting .316 with a majors-leading 11 home runs and a National League-leading .797 slugging percentage in his first 21 games for the Braves.
“Just stand away, don’t say anything, let him keep doing what he’s doing,” Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons said. “You make sure you watch him. Him and (Evan) Gattis. For me, him and Gattis, those are the strongest guys on the team, and it’s pretty fun when they catch one. I don’t miss it.”
Gattis said of Upton’s at-bats: “I’m always paying attention. It’s fun to watch, man.”
Upton’s two homers in Tuesday’s doubleheader gave him a Braves-record 11 homers in April and left him just three shy of the major league record of 14 homers in April, done by St. Louis’ Albert Pujols in 2006 and matched by the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez in 2007.
The Braves have five games left in April, three at Detroit starting Friday and the first two games of a four-game series against the Nationals.
His 10th homer came in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Braves’ 19th game. That was the earliest any Brave has ever hit 10 homers, one game earlier than Dale Murphy did it in 1985. Upton homered again in the nightcap.
Justin Upton has hit a home run in each of the three games that brother B.J. has homered in for the Braves this season. According to Elias, they are the first brothers to homer for the same team in the same game three times in a single month.
The only other brothers who’ve done it as many as three times in an entire season were another pair of Braves, the legendary Hank Aaron and brother Tommie, in 1962.
Hudson goes for 200th in ATL: It didn’t make the Braves’ loss any easier to swallow, but Craig Kimbrel blowing a 5-3 lead in the ninth inning Wednesday at least meant Tim Hudson gets a chance to go for his 200th win in a home game Tuesday against the Nationals.
“Obviously I would have loved to have gotten it here,” Hudson said after the 12-inning, 6-5 loss Wednesday. “(Would’ve been) my first win here at this park; it’s taking a long time. But it’ll be nice to do it at home, obviously. Home crowd, chance to do it against one of our rivals, the Nationals.
“And my family will be able to be there and watch it. Hopefully it’ll be a good matchup again.”
Hudson is 15-5 with a 2.60 ERA in 27 career starts against the Nationals, including a 3-1 win April 13 at Washington, when he allowed one run and four hits in seven innings of a duel with Stephen Strasburg.
Venters update: Braves reliever Jonny Venters is set to begin light throwing Tuesday, four weeks after he was shut down after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his injured left elbow.
He hopes to return at some point in mid-May, but the Braves haven’t given a timetable.
“Tuesday’s the day,” he said of his return to throwing. “It’ll be real easy stuff at first. I think the first day is two sets at 45 feet. Hopefully it moves along quickly.
“I’m not sure exactly what the program is, but hopefully by that second week I’ll be stretching it out and throwing hard.”