Justin Upton went 4-for-4 and homered yet again while Paul Maholm pitched one-hit ball for seven innings in the Braves’ 2-0 defeat of the Marlins on Monday.
Upton leads the majors six homers, one more than Seattle’s Mike Morse, and he also chipped in with his second double tonight. He scored both runs for the 6-1 Braves.
Maholm, meanwhile, was Upton’s equivalent on the mound, pitching shutout ball for his second straight start. He struck out seven Marlins tonight, giving him 13 K’s in 12 2/3 innings on the season. Since arriving in Atlanta in a trade with the Cubs last summer, he’s struck out 72 batters in 81 1/3 innings, a rate that dwarfs anything he did previously with the Pirates. Before joining the Braves, he averaged 5.6 K/9 IP. Since, he’s at 8.0.
In all, the Braves allowed just two hits tonight, singles from Placido Polanco and Rob Brantly. Giancarlo Stanton walked three times and struck out once in his four plate appearances. He’s hitting .174 and has yet to drive in a run this season.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.