Minor (1-0), who made waves at the beginning of last season by demanding a spot in the Braves rotation, got his year off on the right foot with 7.1 innings of solid pitching. He allowed five hits and one earned run.
Minor could very well find himself as the ace of this staff if he continues to pitch like he did during the second half of 2012. And although he struck out seven in this game, he doesn't even need a high K rate to be successful. He just has to keep the ball in the yard.
Justin Upton got the crowd going early with a laser shot into the left field seats in the first inning for his third home run. He drove in another run in the third with a sac fly and was greeted warmly in the dugout.
All year, people will be watching very closely to see if the Braves can complete the "little plays" needed to scratch out runs. Moving runners over and making sac flies/bunts will probably be noted every single time.
Juan Francisco put the game away in the fifth inning with a key bases-loaded hit. After enduring a long at-bat against eventual loser Scott Feldman (0-1), Francisco dropped a soft liner into left field to score two and put the Braves up 4-1.
Gattis was the only Brave with more than one hit. He fought off two of his three hits into right field, which is a good sign. He must be prepared to make adjustments going forward.
Two players have struggled to start off this season, neither of which we should be concerned about. B.J. Upton still does not have a hit, and somehow he is being even more aggressive than usual. He popped out early in the game after swinging on a 3-0 count. If Upton still doesn't have a hit by the end of the weekend, then maybe fans can start sounding alarms.
#Braves Kimbrel: We’ve got a good feel so far this year. We can feel it in the clubhouse that we’re going to have a lot of fun this year.”— David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) April 6, 2013
Andrelton Simmons, meanwhile, who went hitless, is still adjusting to the leadoff spot. But he should be feeling no pressure whatsoever; the rest of the lineup can carry the load for him while he works out his swing. His most important contribution to the team is defense.
Eric O'Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel came out of the bullpen and closed out the game.
Prized pitching prospect Julio Teheran will hope to carry the momentum from a phenomenal spring against Cubs righty Carlos Villanueva.