Mike Minor looked like he didn't miss a beat from the second half of 2012 in Friday night's series opener with the Chicago Cubs. He pitched into the eighth inning for the Atlanta Braves in the 4-1 win.
Minor went 7-2/3 innings, giving up just one run and striking out seven. This came most notably after he struggled through Spring Training, but he had experimented with a sinker, only to get rid of it. Regardless, Minor's confidence Friday was the exact opposite of his first start last year.
"I'm not going to say I'm going to have a game like this every time," Minor said on braves.com. "But I had the confidence going into the season that I was going to attack hitters like I did last year."
The only run Minor gave up was on a solo homer by Scott Hairston to start the top of the fifth inning and got around a one-out double by Alberto Gonzalez in the third inning.
Minor now has a 2.21 ERA over his last 15 starts dating back to last July 4. On that date, Minor was a demotion candidate with a 6.20 ERA.
"He looked really good," Andrelton Simmons said. "Hopefully he stays just like that. From last year, he has not lost a beat. Hopefully he keeps doing what he's been doing and even gets better."
Justin Upton continued his torrid start of the season by homering off Scott Feldman in the first inning, his third homer in four games. Upton would later add a sacrifice fly in the third inning.
Feldman got wild in the fifth inning, and the Braves were able to capitalize on his mistakes when he walked two batters and hit B.J. Upton with a pitch to load the bases. That set up Juan Francisco poking a single into left field to drive in two more runs.
"I think it was an at-bat where he was just trying to put it in play and not hit it over the scoreboard," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Now, he's got an opportunity to play a little more. So, maybe he's maturing as a hitter."
Evan Gattis accumulated three more hits for his young career, but perhaps more impressively gunned down Dioner Navarro in the eighth inning when he tried to steal second.
Julio Teheran will look to continue his Grapefruit League dominance Saturday at 7:10 p.m. opposite Carlos Villanueva.Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Juan Francisco, Justin Upton, Mike Minor, MLB