J. Upton’s four-strikeout game made him majors’ whiff leader

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

When Justin Upton ended Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Cardinals by looking at a called third strike with runners on first and second, the Braves left fielder capped an 0-for-4, four-strikeout game that also included a called third strike with a runner at second base and one out in the seventh inning.

He was 1-for-15 with 11 strikeouts in his past four games before Tuesday and looked at a lot of strikes during that period, some borderline but others quite hittable.

“Sometimes you get locked up,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Tuesday, when asked about Upton looking at good pitches including the game-ender.

Asked immediately Monday’s game about the location of some of the pitches Upton had taken for strikes, Gonzalez said, “I don’t know. They’re fastballs. And these guys are talented enough, these guys can cover an inch or two (off the plate). I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it on videos where it’s three balls outside and somebody (lines) a double down the right field line or even hit the ball out of the ballpark, so they could cover.”

Upton hit .387 (24-for-62) with 12 extra-base hits (eight homers), 18 RBIs and an .855 slugging percentage in the last 17 games of April. Before Tuesday, he was 2-for-19 with one extra-base hit (double) in the first five games of May.

His four-strikeout game moved him into the major league lead with 44 strikeouts before Tuesday, and his strikeout rate of one per 2.9 plate appearances was the highest in the National League