Justin Upton couldn't have picked a better time and place to end his home-run drought than last night inside his old stomping grounds.
Last night, the former Arizona Diamondbacks all-star got sweet, sweet revenge against his former team when he made a triumphant return to Chase Field since being traded to the Atlanta Braves in January by hammering a 440-foot homer over the towering center field wall. The only thing sweeter would've been if the jack landed in the right field bleachers (a.k.a. the section formerly known as "UPTO(W)N")
The epic moonshot, which was J-Up's first since April 27, came in the fourth inning and served some a truckload of extra salt in an already gaping wound as Upton and the rest of the Atlanta Braves destroyed the Diamondbacks in a 10-1 rout. Heck, fellow former D-back Chris Johnson, who was also traded to the ATL from the same trade, got a bit of payback as well with a homer of his own, as well as an RBI hit.
Though the past day or so has seen baseball wags and the sports blogosphere pondering Upton's first game against his old team and any sort of revenge he might be plotting, the slugger had frequently denied he was hoping for retribution. True to his word, Upton didn't celebrating more than necessary after crushing the ball in the fourth against Arizona starter Wade Miley. Instead, he merely rounded the bags while calmly chomping his gum and giving a high-five or after crossing home plate.
Inside, however, we're almost certain that he gave a Nelson Muntz-style "haw-haw" at the D-backs front office, particularly in the direction of general manager Kevin Towers, the man who gave him a one-way ticket to the ATL via a seven-player trade. While cameras didn't show the GM after Upton's hit, we would've loved to have seen the look on his mug.
There were plenty of cheers coming from the 25,052 in attendance at Chase Field when the their former hometown hero slammed his dinger, which tended to drown out the boo-birds that popped up when Upton was tagged out at first base after a grounder in the opening inning. The cheers and "We Miss You Justin" signs also came out during his other three hits last night, including a singles in the fourth and ninth frames, as well as a double in the seventh.
J-Up's swats were part of a deluge of 13 total hits produced by the Braves on Monday night. Arizona may have drawn first blood with a Paul Goldschmidt homer (his tenth this year), but it was the D-backs only one of the game.
Atlanta, on the other hand, started scoring in the fifth and kept adding run after run after run. Miley, who had struck out only one at that point, walked the ATL's Brian McCann, and threw a wild pitch that loaded the bases before Dan Uggla's sacrifice fly. Johnson then walloped his two-run homer.
The Arizona starter decided to follow up his dreadful fifth by kicking off the sixth by hitting B.J. Upton with a pitch to the left the shoulder. In something akin to poetic justice, J-Up's homer followed immediately afterwards. Miley's downward spiral continued by allowing a Freddie Freeman double, walking Evan Gattis, dishing out another wild pitch, and topping it off with an RBI single to McCann to make it 6-1 at that point.
Josh Collmenter inherited the situation in relief and gave up an RBI double to Johnson, his former teammate to add another run.
The comedy of errors continued with Tony Sipp permitting a McCann homer in the eighth and journeyman reliever Will Harris, claimed off waivers by Arizona back in April, coughed up three runs (two of them earned) off four hits.
J-Up gets another crack at the D-backs as Arizona (21-18) battles Atlanta in the second meeting of their three-game series tonight at Chase Field. Patrick Corbin (5-0, 1.75 ERA) goes against the similarly undefeated Julio Teheran (2-0, 4.84). First pitch: 6:40 p.m. TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.dbacks.com.