LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Mike Minor struck out all three Detroit batters in the first inning, but that was the highlight of the day for the Braves in their Grapefruit League opener at Champion Stadium.
The Braves didn’t have a hit until the eighth inning and lost 2-0 to the Tigers before a large crowd that included plenty of Detroit fans in Prince Fielder’s Tigers debut.
The former Brewers star went 2-for-2 with a walk and Detroit out-hit the Braves 10-1.
Minor league outfielder Jordan Parazz had a leadoff single in the Braves’ eighth. Most Atlanta lineup regulars were replaced after two at-bats, as planned.
“We hit some balls hard at people and we lost 2-nothing, but that’s a good outing overall,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I thought it was a pretty good baseball game.”
An incumbent in the battle for the No. 5 starter job, Minor gave up one hit, one walk and had three strikeouts. He threw 21 strikes in 37 pitches, including a change-up that Miguel Cabrera swung at and missed to end the first inning.
“I didn’t feel like I pitched that great to strike out the side,” Minor said. “They were swinging a lot. In midseason form they’re letting those balls go, a couple of inches outside.”
Minor threw nine strikes in 14 pitches in the first inning and struck out Austin Jackson (looking), Brennan Boesch (swinging) and Cabrera.
“He struck out the side in the first inning,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “but [beyond] that his fastball command was good, good changeups. It was a good outing for the young man for the first one.
“I think for the most part everybody had a good outing, pitching-wise.”
Fielder led off the second inning with a bounced single to the right of second base, with second baseman Dan Uggla playing 20 feet in shallow right field in a gimmick defense against the left-handed slugger.
Minor retired the next two batters on a fly ball and pop-up before a two-out walk to Brandon Inge. Gerard Laird flied out to end the inning and Minor’s outing.
“That was a pretty good outing, just because my arm felt good,” Minor said. “I didn’t feel any fatigue really in the two innings I threw. I threw a lot of strikes in the first inning, but the second inning I struggled a little bit. Still, it feels good to get out of it with no runs. Those guys are really good.”
Reliever Anthony Varvaro gave up a leadoff homer to Detroit No. 9 hitter Jerad Head in the third inning.