Upton ties AL mark with seventh HR
Rays star one long ball from MLB record in one postseason
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays continued their power play in the American League Championship Series on Saturday, thanks to another home run from B.J. Upton, whose first-inning solo drive off the catwalk at Tropicana Field gave the Rays an early lead in Game 6, though they eventually fell to the Red Sox.
"I'm still feeling pretty good up there," Upton said. "Hopefully I can keep things going the way they are right now."
The home run was Upton's seventh of the playoffs, moving him into a tie for the AL record for a player in a single postseason. Troy Glaus also hit seven for the Angels during their run to a World Series title in 2002. Barry Bonds and Carlos Beltran share the Major League record with eight. Bonds set the record in '02 with the Giants, and Beltran tied it in '04 with the Astros.
Upton's homer included his 11th RBI, which tied him for the LCS record set by David Ortiz in the Red Sox's seven-game triumph over the Yankees in 2004.
Upton smiled when asked to explain his home run barrage.
"You just shake your head," Upton said. "But more importantly, we've got to get wins. We're not really worried about how many home runs I have or anything like that. We're here to win. You can go 0-for-10, and as long as you win the game, everything is all right."
Stepping it up in October
|B.J. Upton's stats vs. the Red Sox during the 2008 regular season and in the American League Championship Series|
Combine Upton's postseason total with that of Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, and the teammates have produced 13 home runs in the playoffs, extending their AL mark and pulling to within one of the Major League standard set by Bonds and Rich Aurilia on the 2002 Giants.
Four of Upton's homers have come in the ALCS. The latest was a tape-measure shot off Red Sox starter Josh Beckett that appeared to hit one of the catwalk supports coming down from the Tropicana Field roof. The "C" ring catwalk it holds sits 125 feet above the playing field.
"He just left a fastball up and out over the plate and I took advantage of it," Upton said.
Upton's shot was the fourth home run surrendered by Beckett in this series. The Rays hit three off the right-hander in the first four innings of his Game 2 start, including a solo homer by Upton.
The lead that Upton's latest homer provided on Saturday didn't last long. Kevin Youkilis hit a homer in the top of the second off Rays starter James Shields to tie the game at 1.
"We started out pretty well with B.J.'s homer, but we could not string anything together," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We had four hits, whatever it was, and they left 12 guys on base, and I was taking that as a good sign, but it just didn't want to come through for us."
Upton hit nine home runs in 531 at-bats during the regular season, which could be partially credited to his having to deal with left shoulder pain due to an injury in the labrum area that will cause surgery once the season is complete.
"Right now, it feels pretty good and has felt pretty good for the last couple of weeks," Upton said. "So I'm doing everything I can to keep it that way."
Now Upton hopes to contribute while playing in Game 7 Sunday night, an experience that has been in his dreams for much of his life.
"I've been excited for every game [of the postseason]," Upton said. "Nervous? Definitely not. [Playing in a Game 7 is] something that you dream about from the first time you start throwing a ball up the front yard."
Bill Chastin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.