MLB Notebook: Uptons follow rare brother act
Atlanta sluggers first siblings since Hall of Famers Waners to go back to back
When the Braves' B.J. Upton and Justin Upton shared the same outfield in the Opening Day lineup this year and became the first set of brothers to that since the Waner brothers -- Paul and Lloyd -- in 1938, there was legitimate reason to imagine that the two Pirates Hall of Famers might occasionally be acknowledged during the 2013 season.
But surprisingly, one of the early references is connected to home runs. Paul and Lloyd combined for 140 career homers, with Lloyd contributing only 27 during his 18 seasons.
Imagine then, the surprise that was in store for the Polo Grounds crowd on Sept. 15, 1938, when the Pirates came to bat in the fifth inning. With a runner on, Lloyd got things rolling with what turned out to be his final Major League home run. Paul then followed his brother's lead, homering off Cliff Melton to give the Pirates a 5-2 advantage.
Older brother Paul would homer again in the eighth, but the big storyline for the game, as it stands for events taking place in 2013, is that brother teammates had hit back-to-back homers: that particular event would not happen again for quite a bit of time.
Wednesday, in the top of the fifth inning of the second game of a doubleheader against Colorado, Atlanta's Justin Upton homered immediately after his brother B.J., making them -- according to the Braves' media notes via David Vincent -- the first pair of brother teammates to hit back-to-back home runs since Lloyd and Paul Waner for the Pirates on Sept. 15, 1938.
This game marked the third time this season B.J. and Justin have homered in the same game. Again, according to the Vincent-produced list for the Braves, that is the most for any brother tandem in one season since the Braves' own Tommie and Hank Aaron did it three times in 1962.
With the Braves playing two in Colorado, Justin Upton hit a home run in each game and pushed his total to 11 for the season. The 11 home runs in April are the most in Braves history, surpassing the 10 by Ryan Klesko in 1996 and the 10 by Andres Galarraga in both '98 and 2000. Justin is three shy of the Major League record for home runs in April -- a mark shared by Albert Pujols ('06) and Alex Rodriguez ('07).
Justin Upton is the ninth player since 1916 to have at least 11 home runs through his team's first 20 games. The others:
• 14: Rodriguez (2007)
• 12: Ken Keltner (1948), Mike Schmidt ('76) and Pujols (2006)
• 11: Willie Mays (1964), Willie Stargell ('71), Larry Walker (2001) and Luis Gonzalez ('01)
Mariners pitchers struck out 15 Astros, but Houston came out on top, 3-2.
The Mariners have three games this season in which they have struck out at least 15 batters, and they've lost all three. Dating back to 1916, only 16 teams have had three (or more) such games in a full season. The 2012 Rays had four. No other team since 1916 -- outside of Seattle this year -- had three games like this through its first 22 played.
Houston's offense now has a Major League-leading 200 strikeouts for the season (in 20 games). The 2010 Diamondbacks own the Major League record for K's in a season with 1,529. That year, Arizona had 171 strikeouts through 20 games.
Adam Wainwright walked his first batter of the season, but came within two outs of his second shutout of the year, finishing with 8 1/3 innings of five-hit, nine-strikeout ball in the Cardinals' 2-0 win over the Nationals.
Wainwright, who improved to 4-1, now has 37 strikeouts and one walk in 37 1/3 innings for the season. Dating back to 1916, only two pitchers have finished a month (definitions of a "month" include March with April and October with September) in which they struck out at least 37 and walked no more than one. In May 2005, Javier Vazquez fanned 39 with no walks in 46 innings. In August 2012, Cliff Lee had 37 K's and one walk in 36 1/3 innings.
Starter Jeff Locke (six innings, two hits) and three Pirates relievers combined on a four-hit shutout with 11 K's, and Pittsburgh blanked Philadelphia, 2-0.
The Pirates have four shutouts on the season, with this one the second to feature as many as 11 K's. The most recent full season in which a club had more than two such efforts was 1966.
This is the first time since at least 1916 the Pirates have had two such games so early (20 games) into the season. In this (so far) year of the strikeout, the Rangers have three such games (they've played 20) and the Royals also have two (through 17 contests).
Here and there
• Oswaldo Arcia (21 years and 349 days old) became the youngest Twins player since Joe Mauer to hit his first career home run, and Minnesota defeated the Marlins, 4-3, in the first game of a doubleheader. Mauer's first big league homer came in 2004 at the age of 21 years and 48 days, which made him the youngest Twins player to hit his first since Butch Wynegar (20 years and 35 days) in 1976.
• In a rain-shortened affair at Fenway Park, the Athletics defeated the Red Sox, 13-0, with Bartolo Colon going the full seven and allowing just three hits. The 13 runs are the most for the Athletics in a shutout of the Red Sox at Fenway. The previous high was 11 runs, a standard set on Aug. 30, 1930, in a game where Lefty Grove threw a six-hit shutout and the offense collected six doubles as part of a 14-hit attack.
• Howie Kendrick's second home run of the game -- a solo shot in the bottom of the 11th -- gave the Angels a 5-4 victory over the Rangers, and gave Los Angeles three walk-off hits this season. The three are tied for the most in the Majors, with the Reds also having that many. Last season, the Angels had three all year, which tied them for 25th in the Majors.
• Milwaukee defeated San Diego, 6-3, for the club's ninth consecutive win -- its longest winning streak since a 10-game run in August 2003. During the nine straight victories, the Brewers have posted a 2.85 ERA, a .775 OPS and have outscored their opponents (the Cardinals, Giants, Cubs and Padres) 52-27.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.