Braves star Jason Heyward homered in the ninth against the Yankees on Wednesday to raise his spring training batting average to .205.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Jason Heyward boosted his spring batting average to .205 with long homer in the ninth among his two hits to help the Atlanta Braves earn a 5-5 tie against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, despite the fact Atlanta trailed the entire game. The Yankees led, 5-3, going into the ninth, but Freddie Freeman walked and Heyward homered to deep to right off George Kontos. The Yankees put runners on second and third with two outs in the 10th, but the Braves escaped.
Heyward also made a spectacular leaping catch at the wall in the third inning to rob New York’s Raul Ibanez of a home run.
Atlanta starter Brandon Beachy turned out to be a dependable five inning pitcher last season.
In his rookie year, he started 25 games and went 7-3, but he chalked up only 141 2-3 innings. He became known for hitting the wall around the sixth inning and turning it over to the Braves stellar bullpen.
Entering his fifth year of professional baseball, all in the Braves organization, Beachy has never thrown a complete game. He said that he is working on pitching longer and said he wants to start completing games.
“I am ready to start going deep because that’s what they need from me,” Beachy said after going six innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs. I am trying to get ahead of the batters. I feel like I can go the distance even (Thursday) if I had to.”
Beachy said something clicked after his third inning against the Yankees that has him feeling he has found what will make him a successful starter.
“I’ve been going through all spring like it was a long bullpen session, then everything started to come together. I got ahead and I am ready to go now. I learned a lot today.”
After giving up a run in the first, and two more in the third, Beachy settled down over the next three innings and retired nine straight. It was Beachy’s best outing of the spring and manager Fredi Gonzalez noticed.
“I want him throwing about 100 pitches, but they have to go farther than six innings,” Gonzalez said. He gets his pitch count up, but we are going to prod him. The most important thing is to get him past the ‘shot down innings’ where we start to think about making a change.”
Gonzalez said he wants Beachy to be able to reach at least 115 pitches when needed.
Hiroki Kuroda went seven innings for the Yankees, allowing two runs and a homer and striking out six. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said that Kuroda has solidified his spot as the Yankees No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia
Eric Chavez, who has struggled this spring, went 3 for 4 with a double and three RBI to lift his spring average to .235. Robinson Cano went 1-for-3 with an RBI to life his average to .204. Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez had two hits apiece for the Yankees.
NOTES: RHP Tommy Hanson is lined up to be the Braves Opening Day starter on April 5th in New York. Hanson will start Saturday in his final exhibition outing which would leave him the usual four days rest before his next start ... RHP Tim Hudson, recovering from back surgery, is scheduled to pitch two innings in Monday’s exhibition finale against the Mets. It will mark his first appearance of the spring ... The Braves agreed to send cash considerations to the Chicago White Sox in return for minor-league OF Christian Marrero. … OF Jack Cust, who signed a one-year, non-guaranteed $600,000 contract with an option for 2013 with the Houston Astros, was released after going 1-for-25 with eight strikeouts, and signed a minor league deal with the Yankees on Wednesday. Cust has hit 105 career homers including 33 in 2008 with Oakland.