May 17, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielderJustin Upton
(8) hits a grand slam home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
That is the borderline absurd flight distance of Justin Upton’s game-changing grand slam in the 6th inning of Friday night’s 8-5 win over Los Angeles. Upton took a 1-1 pitch from Paco Rodriguez and deposited it into the left-center field stands in majestic fashion, scoring Jordan Schafer, Andrelton Simmons, and Jason Heyward (who had just worked an impressive walk), and in the process, putting the game out of reach for the Braves.
Of course, Upton’s grand slam wasn’t the only significant play of the game (although it was the most memorable) and it was an otherwise balanced victory for the Braves. The aforementioned Jason Heyward returned from a lengthy DL stay with a 2-for-4 night that included an 8th inning RBI single, and frankly, Heyward looked fantastic in his debut. In addition, Andrelton Simmons scored 3 runs, and both Jordan Schafer and Ramiro Pena capitalized on single at-bats with big knocks including a triple from Pena.
The game was very much in doubt before the offensive breakout from Atlanta, as Paul Maholm allowed a 2nd-inning run that gave LA a 1-0 lead, and Dan Uggla‘s error let in 2 additional runs (they were unearned) in the 4th inning that gave the Dodgers another lead at 3-2. It was nothing more than a solid outing from Maholm (6 innings, 8 hits, 4 runs, 2 ER, 3 K) but the bullpen was able to hold a rapidly increasing lead (despite the 2nd of 2 home runs from unknown OF Scott Van Slyke), and it was enough on the run prevention side to allow for a comfortable victory.
The lasting memory from Friday night will be that of Justin Upton’s lift-off, but with Jason Heyward back in the fold, it was the first time this season that Atlanta took to the field with their full offensive compliment, and the results were tremendous. The game wasn’t without negatives (as BJ Upton took another 0-for-4 collar), but the confines of home were kind to the Braves, and they’ll look to continue the positive momentum when they take the field on Saturday evening. Stay tuned.