Thank you, Kevin Towers.
For the uninitiated, Kevin Towers is the current General Manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he is the man that was generous enough to bestow the services of Justin Upton (and Chris Johnson) on the Braves organization during the off-season. On Monday night, Upton and Johnson returned to Chase Field for the first time, and the results were magical in Atlanta’s 10-1 victory.
Upton exploded for a 4-for-5 night that included his 13th home run of the season (to go along with 2 runs and 2 RBI) and Johnson added a 3-for-4 night with a rocket home run in the 5th innings and a total of 3 RBI. It was the first home run for Upton in his last 15 games (46 ABs), and the timing was eerily perfect as he reminded his old team of his potential greatness. Not to be outdone, Johnson had one of the most dramatic moments of the night, as his 2-run bomb gave the Braves a 3-1 lead that they would never relinquish.
In addition to the heroics of the former D-Backs, it was a balanced offensive onslaught from Atlanta. Brian McCann continued his scorching-hot start with a 2-for-3 night that included a home run, and Freddie Freeman also added 2 hits to contribute to the 10-run barrage. It was a pleasant surprise to see runs coming in bunches, and only a 0-for-4 night from Andrelton Simmons stopped the Braves from top-to-bottom dominance.
On the pitching side of things, Mike Minor was, once again, brilliant on Monday night. He tossed 6.2 innings of 1-run ball, allowing 8 hits, but he was only punished by Paul Goldschmidt (who started the game’s scoring with a bullet home run to center), and once he was given a sizable lead, it was lights-out. Minor lowers his ERA to a stellar 2.75 with another strong start, and there is a real buzz about the lefty becoming the “staff ace” at this point in the season.
After a rough (to say the least) series in San Francisco, a blowout victory in game one against Arizona is the perfect medicine. The bats came alive in a big way, and with Minor showing no signs of slowing down, the skies are looking a bit rosier as we head into game two of the three-game set. Stay tuned as the Braves look to clinch at least a .500 road trip when Julio Teheran squares off with Patrick Corbin on Tuesday night (9:40 PM ET).