Just five games into their first season with the Braves and already the Upton brothers are making history.
B.J. Upton tied the Cubs with a lead-off home run in the ninth and then little brother Justin won it 6-5 with a walk-off home run to center. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Uptons are the first brothers in major-league history to hit game-tying and walk-off home runs in the same inning.
“We’d never dreamed of being on the same team, much less coming out here and doing that tonight,” B.J. Upton said. “It’s exciting.”
The fans who roared at Turner Field after the final home run surely agree. The Braves rallied from a 5-1 deficit with three runs and the eighth inning and then the dramatic home runs from the Uptons against Cubs right-handed Carlos Marmol.
According to David Vincent of SABR, it’s the 25th time in major-league history that brothers homered in the same game and the first time since Cal and Billy Ripken did it for the Orioles in 1996. It’s the sixth time brothers have homered in the same inning but none of the others did it as dramatically as the Uptons.
The Uptons did it with their parents watching from the stands. Justin Upton, who also homered in the first inning and started the rally in the eighth with a double, said the ninth inning topped anything in his career so far.
“Ah, man, I think right now, in my mind, it’s No. 1,” he said. “It was exhilarating out there. We had a great time with it.”
Justin Upton now has five home runs in five games with the Braves. B.J. Upton went without a hit in his first 16 at-bats of the season with nine strikeouts before reaching base on an infield single in the seventh and then smacking the home run.
The Cubs touched Braves starter Julio Teheran for five runs over five innings, including a pair of home runs. The Braves started their rally with four runs in the eighth inning against right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa and then finished it with the home runs by the Uptons.
Justin Upton led off the eigth inning with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. Freddie Freeman scored him with a single, and Dan Uggla followed with another hit.
After third baseman Juan Francisco struck out, catcher Gerald Laird walked, and Ramiro Pena drove in two runs with a single. But Reed Johnson hit into a double play to end the inning.
Teheran’s results looked more like 2012 than spring 2013. He was 7-9 with a 5.08 ERA at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2012, doubling his ERA from the previous season. Over the past two seasons Teheran was 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in four major league starts.
Teheran, 22, attributed his success in during the spring to changing speeds on his pitches instead of trying to overpower hitters with his fastball. He also mixed his pitches more after working on his slider and sinker during the winter.
But Teheran appeared unsettled from the start against the Cubs while missing several pitches high out of the strike zone. Teheran gave up a leadoff double to David DeJesus, walked Alfonso Soriano on four pitches with two outs and then allowed an RBI single to Nate Schierholtz.
Teheran got out of that inning and made it through the next two with little trouble. Things still were fine for Teheran after Luis Albuena hit a solo home run in the fourth inning for a 2-1 Cubs lead.
Things came apart for Teheran in the fifth inning, starting with Starlin Castro’s single. Anthony Rizzo followed with a home run to right, Schierholtz hit a two-out double and Welington Castillo singled to score him.
The Braves’ offense didn’t prove much support for Teheran until the big rally. Justin Upton hit a two-out, two-strike home run in the first inning off of Villanueva, but the Braves got little else against him before bashing Chicago’s bullpen.