Brandon Beachy went into Thursday night's game as the major league leader in ERA. It's safe to say he improved on that number.
Beachy pitched his first career shutout as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Florida Marlins 7-0 to earn a series split. Beachy gave up only five hits and recorded six strikeouts while not walking a batter. He ended the night after throwing 122 pitches, 80 of which were strikes. He lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.33.
“If you can keep their speed off base and keep their running game from getting going, and Beachy just said ‘You know what? Nobody is getting on base,’" Chipper Jones said about Beachy. "It was fun to play behind him. I think ever since he’s gotten to the point where he said I’m going to sacrifice some strikeouts to go deeper in games, you see the result. Because he’s got stuff to get people out consistently. Tonight was his crowing effort.”
Beachy has achieved consistent success so far in the 2012 season, as he has allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine of his ten starts this season. Unfortunately for the Marlins, starter Ricky Nolasco was not as fortunate. He allowed four runs on seven hits in four innings of work.
While the real story of this game is Beachy's dominant performance, the Braves' offense cannot be overlooked. Their hit total reached double digits for the third straight game, and Michael Bourn and Martin Prado continued to set the tone at the top of the order. Bourn had two hits and a steal, while Prado hit a double and an RBI triple.
Jones and Tyler Pastornicky also recorded two hits apiece, and Freddie Freeman put any concerns over his eye injury to rest with a big home run in the third inning. Beachy even got in on the action a little bit with an RBI single.
As for Beachy, even though he was very successful in the 2011 season, he was unable to go deep into games. This season, he has sacrificed some strikeouts to be able to pitch more innings, and the results are showing in a big way.
“I’ve been more aggressive," Beachy said. "Even when I’m getting behind in the count, I’m not doing it the same way I used to. I’ve got a purpose behind the pitches I’m throwing now, especially earlier in the count, hoping I can get some quick outs and it’s happening. I’m not getting the strikeouts I used to get, but I’ll take a flyball. As long as it’s an out, it’s an out.”
The Braves ended their four-game homestand against the Marlins and Cincinnati Reds with a 2-2 record. They now head to Florida for a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tommy Hanson (4-3, 3.43 ERA) will take the mound against James Shields (6-1, 3.52 ERA) on Friday night at 7:10 EDT.
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