This weekend was all about BJ Upton, and finally in a good way. The Braves took both games 2-1 and 6-3 on Saturday and Sunday to take the series against the Nats. After months of leaking oil on the battlefield, BJ struck a game winning blow for the Braves on Saturday night, and a long bomb into the left field stands on Sunday afternoon. They were just two hits, but for a guy that's been nothing short of a headcase at the plate, those two hits could be the impetus for a June turnaround. He wasn't alone in the Upton family to get back on track. His brother Justin, who had an abysmal June batting around .210, came up large in the final game against the Nationals. J-Up went 3/4 on the day with a walk, scoring a big run in the 5th to give the Braves a 2 run cushion.
The Braves needed to win these last two games to take another game lead in the standings, and they executed their gameplans beautifully. Many people before Saturday's game were questioning Tim Hudson. Several people in my own group of friends were thinking that he should be moved to the bullpen when Beachy returns. I openly scoffed at that notion, and I still do. He's never done that in his career, and he's a 4-4 guy who has struggled on the road. However, Tim showed exactly what an Ace can look like at home on Saturday. He went 7.1 innings, 3 hits, 1 unearned run in the Braves 2-1 extra innings win. If Tim was even slighly off point in that game, the Braves lose it and lose the series. Unshockingly, I haven't heard about the Tim and the bullpen since that night. I'm sure they'll get louder if he loses on the road, but even Huddy noted that he made a mechanical change recently that seemed to put him back on track.
The Braves also needed Freddie Freeman. Where would we be without this kid? In the entire series against the Nats, Freddie went 4/12 with 4 RBIs, including the double in game 3 that blew the match wide open in the 6th inning. The most hilarious part of that game was the Nats walking Justin Upton to load the bases and get to Freddie. Has nobody been paying attention? Are managers still this stupid? You walk Justin (a .200 RISP hitter) to get to Freeman (a literally .500 RISP hitter in 40 ABs)? Keep doing it other managers, it's going really well for the Braves so far. Now that BJ got on track in this series, we also need a few other guys to get it together for the Pirates coming into town. Dan Uggla hasn't had a hit since the first game in Toronto. Jason Heyward hasn't had a hit since we played the Mets in NY. Meanwhile, Ramiro Pena is 6/13 in the last seven days. Keeping him on the bench when Uggla can't even make contact right now is criminal. Fredi is going to have to find a way to get Pena in games.
At the end of the weekend, the Braves find themselves 12 games over .500, 18-7 at home, and 6.5 games up in the standings. The surging Pirates head into town, and the Braves would like nothing more than to exact some revenge for what happened in Pittsburgh. Series preview later today.