The first week of the 2013 season certainly met all expectations for the Braves, who entered Monday leading all non-Houston-based Major League teams in strikeouts (63) and all non-Coors Field-based National League teams in home runs (11). With five in his first five games, Justin Upton hit more home runs than any Braves player hit in all of April last year. He capped this season’s first multi-homer game on Saturday night with a walk-off shot that further endeared the Upton brothers to their new hometown. The home runs Justin and B.J. Upton hit in the ninth inning of the comeback win over the Cubs will rest in that special category that includes the two walk-off homers Chipper Jones hit last year and the Opening Day blasts hit by Andres Galarraga (2000) and Jason Heyward (2010). It was only fitting for Justin Upton to conclude his first week in Atlanta by joining his brother as the only Braves to notch a golden sombrero (four strikeouts in a game) so far this year. More will be added to this club. It is simply part of the new Braves way. Justin’s four strikeouts on Sunday accounted for a quarter of the total recorded by Jeff Samardzija (13 strikeouts) and the Cubs bullpen. Sunday marked the second time during this young season that the Braves won a game in which they struck out 16 times. In the franchise’s long storied history, the Braves have won just 10 games while striking out at least 16 times. Two of these instances have occurred within the first six games of this season. The Angels are the only other Major League team to win a game this year while striking out at least 16 times. But they did so while needing 13 innings to claim their Opening Day victory in Cincinnati. So how rare is it to win a game while striking out at least 16 times in games that do not extend beyond the ninth inning? Including the two times this year, the Braves have won just five non extra-inning games in franchise history while striking out at least 16 times. The most recent occurrence had been on May 22, 2006, when John Smoltz beat Jake Peavy and the Padres 3-1. On the way to notching 16 strikeouts in seven innings, Peavy allowed Ryan Langerhans to hit a decisive two-run home run in the second inning.
Braves are proving strikeouts are just a new way of life
MLB.com | Apr 8