ANAHEIM -- When the Angels acquired Justin Upton from the Tigers two weeks ago, they hoped he would help fill a void in the middle of their lineup and fortify their offense as they chased an American League Wild Card berth down the stretch.For the most part, Upton has delivered.Upton
ANAHEIM -- When the Angels acquired Justin Upton from the Tigers two weeks ago, they hoped he would help fill a void in the middle of their lineup and fortify their offense as they chased an American League Wild Card berth down the stretch.
For the most part, Upton has delivered.
Upton launched his first home run as an Angel in Wednesday night's 9-1 victory over the Astros at Angel Stadium, capping his club's big night the plate with a solo shot off Tyler Clippard in the sixth inning.
After going hitless in his first three at-bats, Upton pounced on a first-pitch fastball from Clippard, hammering it to left-center field for his 29th home run of the season and the 250th of his career. The ball had an exit velocity of 107 mph and traveled a projected 412 feet, according to Statcast™. The homer also gave Upton 100 RBIs on the season, leaving him two shy of matching his career-high, which he set in 2014 with the Braves.
Since joining the Angels, Upton has hit .268 with an .802 OPS in 11 games. The additions of Brandon Phillips and Upton have significantly lengthened the Halos' lineup, as the two now sandwich Michael Trout at the top of the order, giving cleanup hitter Jose Pujols far more opportunities to drive in runs.
"Our lineup is as deep as we've seen it in a while here, and Justin's right in the middle of it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His ability to hit in the middle of the order, behind Mike, the number of opportunities that Albert has, they've been incredible since he's arrived, starting in Texas."
Wednesday's win over the Astros kept the Angels two games behind the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot with 17 games left to play. Scioscia said he believes Upton's bat could be a huge boon for the club over the final two weeks of the season.
"I think it's going to have a positive effect on what we need to do here in the next couple weeks," Scioscia said. "Even when he has a night when maybe he's not squaring pitches up, he's still a threat in the middle."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.