Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 5/14/13
Here are three things we learned from the Braves' 10-1 road rout of the Diamondbacks, otherwise known as Justin Upton's successful Arizona homecoming: 1. So much for debating the pratfalls of Upton returning to the desert so early in the season Upton (one triple shy of the cycle on Monday) must have been focused like a laser for this one, racking up two runs, two RBI and four hits against his former team including a two-run homer off Josh Collmenter in the sixth inning, raising the Braves' lead to 5-0. For good measure, brother B.J. Upton also scored on the moon shot to center field. Obviously, one game isn't enough to quantify the winnerslosers of a blockbuster trade especially since the Diamondbacks (21-18) won't see a return on prospects Brandon Drury, Nick Ahmed or Zeke Spruill for a year or two. But Atlanta's end of Upton (MLB-best 13 homers) and third baseman Chris Johnson (three hits, three RBI on Monday) has been absurdly good to date, with the pair leading with a youthful, but experienced club that's primed for a title run. 2. B.J. Upton's outfield assistdouble play in the first inning was a real game-changer Oh sure, his letter-perfect toss from center field nailing ex-Brave Martin Prado at the plate off a sacrifice fly doesn't seem like much, in hindsight. But keep in mind, the Diamondbacks were up 1-0 at the time (thanks to Paul Goldschmidt's homer) and looking for an edge any clear pull of momentum on this emotional night (thanks to Justin Upton's return). And from an Arizona perspective, it did change things ... for the worse. After that shaky first inning, Atlanta starter Mike Minor settled down and helped spur his team to its 22nd victory. In fact, of Minor's seven innings, Arizona didn't send more than five batters to the plate at any time. For B.J. Upton (1 for 2 on Monday), he's experiencing the upside to playing in a patient market like Atlanta. Yes, he's batting .151 for the season, and carrying the national burden of being an early disappointment among the winter's major free agents ... but in the South, the slow start isn't a hot-button issue on May 13. Especially when he's saving games for a first-place team ... with arms, legs or any other valuable appendage. Speaking of which ... Upton kick-started the Braves' four-run sixth with a hit-by-pitch, which prompted Justin Upton's two-run homer. Next up, a Freddie Freeman double, Evan Gattis walk, Brian McCann single and eventual double from Chris Johnson (who homered in the 5th) completed the seven-run blitz over two innings. By then, the result was largely academic. 3. Minor's outings are essentially carbon copies of one another and that's a good thing Outside of wondering when Minor who crossed the 350-inning threshold for his career on Monday will get a chance at his first complete game in the majors, there isn't much to lament here: At 25 and in his fourth season, Minor (one run allowed, four strikeouts in 6.2 victorious innings) has evolved into a rock-solid asset at the highest level, and quite possibly, one of the best No. 3 starters in baseball. In fact, the way things are progressing, Minor (5-2, 2.76 ERA) could be on that conversation list of potential all-stars sometime around July 1. But first things first ... since the Braves haven't even passed the quarter-pole of the season (they'll do so after Wednesday's series finale). Plus, Minor has yet to replicate last September's all-world showing (4-0, 0.87 ERA, 0.71 WHIP), as expected. Jokes aside, Minor has fostered an excellent start to 2013, surrendering three or less runs in seven of eight starts. And from a walks perspective, the southpaw's a perfect 8 for 8 with three free passes or less. Looking ahead, Minor will likely draw starts against the Dodgers, Mets, Blue Jays, Pirates and Padres over the next three weeks, making him a viable candidate for double-digit wins by Fathers' Day, or soon after that.
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