Atlanta Braves fans can expect that Justin Upton and Paul Maholm will eventually look human, but they showed no signs Monday night in their road opener against the Miami Marlins. Upton produced all of the Braves' runs and finished a triple short of the cycle while Maholm threw a gem in the 2-0 win.
Upton went 4-for-4 with a double, two singles and a massive home run down the left field line. He also scored both of Atlanta's runs in support of Maholm.
"I told [Upton] to just keep doing it when I pitch," Maholm said on braves.com. "He's obviously one of the top players in the league. It's awesome that we were able to trade for him and get him in this lineup. It's fun to watch. Not having to face him, it's a lot better."
Upton led off the fourth inning with a double, was moved over by Evan Gattis and driven in by Dan Uggla on a groundout in a perfect example of ABC baseball.
He then started the sixth inning with a towering homer for his sixth homer of the year in just the seventh game. Upton could break the Braves record of 10 home runs in the month of April, which is currently shared by Ryan Klesko (1996) and Andres Galarraga (1998 and 2000).
Though Upton looks like a man on a mission while hitting .423 with a 1.192 slugging percentage, he says he's not trying to prove the Arizona Diamondbacks wrong for trading him.
"You can't live like that," Upton said. "You can't live hoping other people fail. I'm just not that type of person. I'm with a new team now and I'm having fun. This is a great clubhouse and a great place to play. I'm just enjoying myself."
Marlins starter Kevin Slowey was solid over his seven innings, but he has had the worst run support of any pitcher in baseball over the last two years.
Maholm, meanwhile, walked three, struck out seven and gave up one hit over his seven innings. He retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced, only pausing the hit Juan Pierre with a pitch in the fifth. The only hit he gave up came on a single by Placido Polanco in the third inning.
"Obviously I'm going to eventually give up runs," Maholm said. "But I'm going to try to ride this as long as possible. Every time out, I'm going to try to do the same thing. I'm going to try to be aggressive, get some quick outs, mix speeds and get some ground balls. Some days it's going to work and some days it's not."
Craig Kimbrel made sure to make things interesting in the ninth by walking Giancarlo Stanton to start the inning before putting the tying run on base when Rob Brantley singled to center. He managed to preserve the shutout by striking out Adeiny Hechavarria to end the game.
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