LA Angels News: Justin Upton hits grand slam in return (video)
By Alfonso Cerna
After missing two games with back stiffness, Angels left fielder Justin Upton made his presence felt by delivering a two-out grand slam in the seventh inning of Friday’s 10-3 win over the Twins.
Making it sweeter was the fact Minnesota intentionally walked Mike Trout in favor of facing Upton in that spot. The Halos were also sporting their red jerseys for the first time this season, each with No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson.
Upton finished his night going 2-for-4 with four RBI, pushing his season slash line to .225/.304/.425 along with two home runs and nine RBI in 46 plate appearances. He’s also got a 3.3 strikeout-to-walk ratio which is above his 2.5 career average.
The 33-year-old has been one of the streakiest players in the league during his 15 MLB seasons. When he’s on a roll he can be one of the hottest hitters and toughest outs in baseball. Unfortunately for the Angels, the cold side of Upton’s streakiness has been on display for the better part of the last two seasons.
I think some nagging injuries had their impact in his performances because when he’s healthy, Upton is still capable of being a lethal slugger as seen on Friday.
It’s scary to think, but the Halos offense has ranked top-10 in a few MLB categories while being carried by three players: Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Jared Walsh (who also homered on Friday).
One of my bold predictions of 2021 was Upton finishing with 40 home runs in a comeback season. I’ll stand by that because I still think he’s capable when healthy, but the Angels don’t necessarily need Upton posting those numbers to be successful.
Obviously they’re not going to turn it down, but if Upton can still produce in high-level moments like in Friday’s seventh inning, that’s going to help the Halos win a lot of ballgames this season. It takes the burden off of Trout and Ohtani, while also making tough outs throughout the lineup.
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You can’t fault the Twins for not pitching to Trout in that spot, as not many would.
It’s not going to be the last time, but you can bet teams will begin to think twice before facing Upton in these spots.