LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – After Roger McDowell went out for a word with Brandon Beachy in the third inning of Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees, the Braves pitcher realized it was time to get serious and pitch like the regular season was about to begin.
Beachy allowed a run on three consecutive two-out singles in the first inning and gave up two runs and three hits in the third. But after Jason Heyward’s homer-robbing catch in right field was followed by Eric Chavez’s two-out RBI single in the third, Beachy retired the last 10 batters he faced.
Just like that, he became all but unhittable for the last half of his six-inning stint in the Braves’ 5-5, 1o-inning tie with the Yankees.
He lowered his ERA by a run, from 6.43 to 5.40. Still not good, but progress.
“Those last three innings I think I really figured something out that I’ve been missing all spring and it really showed,” Beach said. “And I felt great. [It was] just a little edge. Just a little competitiveness and aggressiveness with my pitches.”
He threw 100 pitches (29 in the first inning) and gave up six hits and three runs (two earned) in six innings, with no walks and two strikeouts. He said things changed after a third-inning mound visit by McDowell.
“In the back of my mind I’ve been trying to work on stuff,” he said. “I wouldn’t have told you this yesterday because I don’t think I would have realized it, but I was kind of out there going through it like a bullpen almost. I kind of got that switch flipped and was going out there and competing after Roger came out there.”
The three first-inning hits weren’t hit hard, and they came after it appeared Beachy might have struck out Mark Teixiera on an 0-2 pitch when the ex-Brave checked his swing and the umpire ruled in his favor. Teixeira got the first of the three singles in the inning.
Eduardo Nunez led off the Yankee third with a double and scored on Robinson Cano’s single to left. One line-out later, Raul Ibanez hit a long fly that looked like trouble until Heyward raced back to the right-field wall, leapt with one foot against the padding and reached over the wall for the catch.
Beachy initially thought it was gone, then changed his mind as soon as he saw Heyward taking long strides toward the wall.
“It was one of those that you like to think you can catch off the bat, and then it kept going,” Heyward said. “The wind held it up enough to make that catch.”
Granted a reprieve of sorts, Beachy soon went to work on keeping Yankees off the bases and getting more serious about the business of preparing for a season that begins next week.
The pitched who piled up 169 strikeouts in 141-2/3 innings as a rookie had only two strikeouts Wednesday, but that’s not a bad thing for Beachy as he strikes to keep his pitch counts lower in his second season.
“I was throwing the fastball down in the zone, getting ahead,” he said of his final three innings. “I got ahead of guys all day long. I was doing a little of the picking thing and just wasn’t as aggressive with the off-speed in the zone, and I fixed that later on. They’re going to put balls in play, but that’s what I want them to do.”
The Braves are 7-4-3 (three ties) after their 1-10-1 start… Freddie Freeman has hit five homers in his past eight official at-bats over three games. He homered in the seventh inning Wednesday after consecutive two-homer games…. Closer Craig Kimbrel and Freeman are only ones on the the Braves 2012 new media guides distributed Wednesday. Kimbrel was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2011 and Freeman was runner-up.