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Uptons first brothers to join 20/20 club

Uptons first brothers to join 20/20 club

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Uptons first brothers to join 20/20 club
ST. PETERSBURG -- A little over two weeks ago, B.J. Upton was placed on waivers. Soon thereafter, an unknown team claimed him.

The Rays decided not to trade him, repeating the hardened stance they had around the end of July when rumors were rampant on his status with the organization.

Upton has taken quite a journey as a Ray from when he was selected as the second overall pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. He's had to deal with a positional change from shortstop to center, the doubters and critics in seemingly every season, a breakout year in 2007, a stellar postseason in '08 and trade rumors over the past two years when his numbers plummeted.

On Sunday, Upton validated Tampa Bay's reason for keeping him when he joined the 20-20 club for home runs and stolen bases in a season. The 27-year-old smacked his 20th homer of the season -- and his first career grand slam -- off Red Sox reliever Matt Albers in the fifth inning of the Rays' 9-1 win over the Red Sox to make him and his brother, Justin, the only set of brothers in Major League history to record 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season.

In addition, B.J. Upton made his first curtain call and received what he described as the "loudest and longest standing ovation" he's had in his next plate appearance, which he turned into a single.

"That was special right there, considering everything I've been through," said Upton, who has 27 stolen bases this season. "That was a different feeling right there. I have goosebumps thinking about it. There's been some pretty big situations, and I've had a good time here, but that's definitely No. 1 on my list."

Upton, who finished the day 4-for-4 with three runs and four RBIs, has had a nice turnaround over the past seven games, going 12-for-27 with four doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs.

"Definitely a good feeling for the family," said Upton, who has hit safely in five of six games since being moved to second in the batting order. "[I] couldn't have asked for a better day."

With the Rays leading, 4-1, Upton, who had singled, walked and doubled in his previous at-bats, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. The older Upton brother -- born as Melvin and raised as Bossman Junior -- let two pitches from Albers go by before launching a 2-0 fastball deep into the seats in left field.

"The one thing about B.J. is, he's not afraid," manager Joe Maddon said. "So when it comes to big moments, you know what you're going to get. You're going to get a guy that's going to get out there and not be intimidated by the moment -- and he knows that. I think that's one of his strong points."

Upton said he received a quick text of congratulations from his brother, who had 30 homers and 20 stolen bases for the D-backs heading into Sunday's contest against the Padres.

"They scored a lot of runs today," said Justin Upton. "So it's pretty cool. It's definitely a cool accomplishment. We're glad we're the first. It's an awesome accomplishment. I hope we can do it again. Both of us are pretty young still. There's room for improvement. We'll try and pull it off again."

Do the brothers compare stats?

"No, not at all," said Justin. "I pull for him. He pulls for me. However it ends out we'll talk trash at the end of year."

The Uptons became the seventh set of brothers to each hit 20 home runs in a season, joining Jason and Jeremy Giambi, Irish and Bob Meusel, Joe and Vince DiMaggio, Aaron and Bret Boone, Brian and Marcus Giles and Lee and Carlos May. In addition to Hank and Tommie Aaron, the Uptons joined that same group who have combined to hit 50 homers or more in a season.

Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. National reporter Barry M. Bloom contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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