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.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.