Game-Changer: B.J. Upton's Two-Run Home Run | The Process Report

Game-Changer: B.J. Upton’s Two-Run Home Run

In a one-run game, any play that puts runs on the board is a game-changer. However, B.J. Upton’s two-run home run was THE game-changer in this American League East showdown. The Rays got three home runs against A.J. Burnett with two coming in the five-run sixth inning. Sam Fuld’s two-run shot gave Tampa Bay some much needed life and Upton’s blast resurrected the home offense from the dead.

The sweet swing of the Rays’ centerfielder changed the win expectancy by an astounding 36.9%. After Matt Joyce advanced to second base on a wild pitch, Tampa Bay had a 35% chance of winning. Following the home run, their chances improved to just below 72%.

Coming in to tonight’s game, Upton had struck out in 15 of his 36 at-bats against Burnett. Putting stock into individual matchups is dangerous; however, you could say Upton had trouble putting the ball in play against the right-hander. In fact, over the last few seasons Upton has struggled against right-handers in general. In 2011, he has fared much better facing the platoon split – including hitting all six of his home runs against righties.

In the game-changing at-bat, Upton fell behind the count 1-2 before taking the fourth pitch of appearance for a ball to even the count. On the fifth pitch, Burnett hung a knucklecurve that didn’t knuckle enough. In their past 30 or so battles, Upton has not swung and missed on a Burnett curveball. With this one staying belt high and sitting in the middle of the plate, Upton made sure to keep that streak alive and put the Rays ahead for good.