The Atlanta Braves are the hottest team in baseball after winning their eleventh consecutive game on Monday. One big reason for their recent success: Justin Upton. The younger Upton started off the season like gang-busters and mashed 12 homers in April alone, leaving fantasy owners like myself wiggling with joy like a puppy getting a treat. Then, May happened. Upton hit two homers in the month, driving in only 10 runs and batting .211. Ouch. I cried SELL early on in May, and I practiced what I preached. Upton would go on to hit only four HR in May, June and July combined, only driving in 29 runs over that span. Turn the page to August, and Upton looks rejuvenated. He homered twice on the first and has homered twice more since, all while batting .409 (9 for 22) thus far. Owners who bought low are hoping this is a sign of another scorching-hot month; those who sold high are happy they did so. Upton is one of the streakiest and most frustrating players when he’s cold, but when he’s hot he can put up some staggering power numbers. Hopefully he continues this surge, but I wouldn't count on his August slasher of .409/.480/1.000 sticking.
Hanley Ramirez sat out again after making a head-over-heels grab at Wrigley over the weekend. Considering how fragile he’s been this year, and how productive when healthy, owners have to be holding their collective breath. Hanley doesn't think he will need a trip on the DL, but then Hanley doesn't exactly get paid to analyze MRIs. Actually, he gets paid way more than those people who do... you know, doctors (who save lives).
Howie Kendrick is enjoying one of his more productive seasons for a very underperforming Angels' squad. Now he is enjoying an ice-pack on his knee. Kendrick hyperextended his left knee while going after a “Bermuda triangle” pop-up on Monday. He and Colin Cowgill nearly collided on the play but Kendrick went down in a heap after planting awkwardly on his left leg. It looked pretty uncomfortable and he had to be helped off the field without putting much pressure on the leg. I don’t get paid to look at MRIs, and I get paid far less than most doctors, but I would go out on a hyperextended limb and say Kendrick will go on the DL for this one.
Desmond Jennings was placed on the DL for a fractured middle finger. Initial X-Rays were negative but upon further review there was a small fracture. Do we need replay in hospitals? Should we give patients red hanky flags to pull from their sock a la Bill Belichick? That’s bush league Doctor number one, bush league. Sam Fuld and freshly recalled Jason Bourgeois (say it with me: Bouze-jwah) will likely split time in CF while Jennings is out.
AL Hot Shots:
- Tom Wilhelmsen has fallen on tough times as he was demoted to Triple-A after imploding Thursday. He still could regain the closer job next year but Danny Farquhar (lesson #2: Far-kwar) should have the job locked up for now.
- Eric Hosmer knocked in five RBI for the first time in his career on Monday. Hosmer has been one of the hottest hitters in recent weeks and is fulfilling his post-hype-post-hype-hype finally. Wait…yeah, that’s right. He’s got six multi-hit games over his last 10.
- Jeremy Guthrie won his fourth straight post ASG start with a complete game shutout of the Twins on Monday. His ERA is finally under 4.00 at 3.96 and a record of 12-7.
- Ryan Madson was released by the Angels. He’s still working his way back from Tommy John surgery after being overworked by the Phillies then dumped.
- Clay Buchholz will hurl from a mound on Tuesday. He’s been sidelined since being caught cheating. I think he’s just being a Nancy-boy. He wont be back until late August at the earliest.
- Brett Lawrie continues to punish the ball as he was a homer short of the cycle in a 3-for-4 effort on Monday. He’s hitting .343 with 4 HR and 10 RBI in 71 at-bats since returning from the DL in mid-July.
- Chris Perez had an epic blown save on Monday as he allowed 3 hits and 4 ER. One of the hits was a 3 run blast by the recently -urging Alex Avila. Perez probably drank a Pabst and smoked a doobie with his wife to forget his troubles; he’ll be fine, probably.
- Justin Smoak cranked a solo homer for his 11th on the season in a losing effort as R.A. Dickey knuckled his way past Hisashi Iwakuma and the M’s.
NL Hot Shots
- Sergio Romo allowed a solo shot to Juan Francisco (that’s fun to say) but still managed to nail down his 27th save on the season as the Giants edged the Brewers 4-2.
- Zack Greinke defeated Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals for the Dodgers’ 15th straight road victory. Greinke improved to 9-3 on the season and even drove in a run to help his own cause. The highlight of the game was when Yasiel Puig and Mark Ellis combined for a sexy relay to nab a runner at home to preserve the lead. Paco Rodriguez got the save with Kenley Jansen getting the night off.
- Tyler Clippard once again got tomahawked by the Braves as Justin Upton launched a go-ahead solo homer off of him in the eighth inning which would prove to be the game winner.
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Follow Shawn Caswell on Twitter, or don’t: @CasKnowsRoto