Upton stays hot with aggressive approach

Tigers outfielder has 23 RBIs since break, second most in the AL

Upton stays hot with aggressive approach

BALTIMORE -- Despite a 5-2 loss to the Orioles on Saturday night at Camden Yards, the Tigers have still won six of their last eight games, and manager Brad Ausmus thinks that Justin Upton is the reason.

"Generally speaking, when he hits home runs, we do well," Ausmus said. "He's been swinging the bat very well lately. It's probably the reason we've played better."

Ausmus is right. Although the Tigers didn't come away with a win after Upton launched a two-run shot in the first inning on Saturday, the team is 15-6 when the outfielder hits a home run this season.

Saturday marked Upton's third consecutive game with a long ball, his first such stretch since May 18-20, 2014. His 21st home run of the year also was his fifth in his last seven games.

"Really, [I'm] just being aggressive on strikes," Upton said of his recent surge. "You only do what you can and take what they give you. If they give me pitches, I'll do what I can."

Upton's first-inning homer also extended his hitting streak to seven games. During that span, the slugger is hitting .367 with five home runs, seven runs and 16 RBIs. Upton's 23 RBIs since the All-Star break trail only Baltimore's Jonathan Schoop for most in the American League.

"I'm just sticking to the process," Upton said of his consistency. "Being able to go out there and grind at-bats day in and day out and not giving any away. Obviously I've given some at-bats away this year, but for the most part, I've been really locked in on the pitcher and just trying to do what I can with the pitches I'm given."

Upton was fresh off a game-winning grand slam Friday night when he stepped to the plate in the first inning on Saturday. The slugger fell behind 0-2 in the count against Orioles starter Wade Miley, but he got ahold of an 87.9-mph slider on the low-inside corner and sent it a Statcast-projected 422 feet into the stands in left field. According to Statcast™, the ball left Upton's bat at 109.6 mph.

"Definitely not thinking home run there," Upton said. "I was down 0-2 in the count. I just got a pitch, I'm sure it wasn't the spot [Miley] was trying to go to, but I really got a barrel to it."

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.