ATLANTA (AP) — Brandon Beachy escaped jams in his final spring start with the same tenacity he showed to claim a spot in the Atlanta Braves’ rotation.
Beachy stranded six baserunners in four scoreless innings and Scott Baker was just as strong for the Minnesota Twins in their 2-0 win over the Braves on Wednesday.
Beachy gave up five hits and no walks. He overcame errors by his defense in the first and fourth innings. He left the bases loaded in the fourth when he struck out Alexi Casilla.
“We got him in some jams, but the guy, he’s unflappable, really,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He got himself out and that’s what he’s been doing.”
The 24-year-old Beachy posted a 0.90 ERA for the spring to beat out Mike Minor and Rodrigo Lopez for the fifth spot in the Braves’ rotation. He was 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts in his debut in the major leagues late last season.
“I can’t wait to win,” Beachy said. “I want to have a number other than zero next to my name.”
Many observers considered Minor, who also posted a strong 0.90 ERA this spring, the favorite in the spring competition because he would have given the rotation its first left-hander. Instead, Beachy is joining Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens in the rotation.
“Man, oh man, knock on wood, he was good,” Gonzalez said of Beachy. “He’s a good guy to cheer for.
“He’s got good command of all his pitches and throws them for strikes. He does everything well, from holding runners to fielding his position to handling the bat. He throws strikes. The whole package. Not that the other guys don’t, but this guy’s stuff really stands out.”
Lowe will start in Thursday’s opener at Washington.
The Twins scored two runs in the eighth off Lopez. Jason Kubel drove in Jason Repko with a double. Kubel scored on Brian Dinkelman’s single.
Baker gave up three hits with a walk in five innings.
“Even though you’re just going out there and you’re working on certain things you might not necessarily do in a normal game circumstance, it still feels good to go out there and get some decent results,” Baker said.
Lopez, who is headed for Triple-A Gwinnett, pitched five innings, giving up three hits and two runs.
Minnesota’s starting pitchers combined to allow four hits in nine scoreless innings in the two exhibition games in Atlanta. Nick Blackburn gave up one hit with a walk in four innings in Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Braves.
“There was some pretty good pitching going on,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “I think both teams kind of rely on that.”
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau was 0 for 3, leaving his batting average at .152 for the spring.
Gardenhire said the good news is Morneau and other key players are healthy.
Morneau is expected to start in Friday’s opener at Toronto in his return from a concussion. Joe Mauer is back after minor surgery on his left knee in December. Joe Nathan, who had 47 saves in 2009, is returning from major elbow surgery.
“You’d like to start and finish with your core group,” Gardenhire said. “That’s always a nice thing, to be able to do that.”
Minnesota finished the spring 20-12. Atlanta was 17-13.
NOTES: OF Denard Span had two hits to finish the spring hitting .355 for Minnesota. … Jurrjens (sore right ribcage) is scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Thursday in Washington. Gonzalez said he’ll confer with general manager Frank Wren and the team’s trainers after the session. Gonzalez said Jurrjens could need a minor league rehab start. … Braves OF Joe Mather cleared waivers and was sent to Triple-A Gwinnett.
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