LAWRENCEVILLE — Atlanta Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy has had some ups and downs on his way back from elbow surgery this season.
However, there were very few negatives in his injury rehabilitation start for the Gwinnett Braves against the Indianapolis Indians.
Beachy threw five solid innings and got offensive support from Ernesto Mejia’s home run, plus two hits and an RBI from Phil Gosselin, to pick up his first win in his sixth Gwinnett start with a 4-3 G-Braves victory Friday before 6,525 fans at Coolray Field.
“He’s working his tail off,” G-Braves manager Randy Ready said of Beachy. “I think the whole (time) when we shut him down for three weeks to a month was kind of a setback, but it shows his strong work ethic to forge ahead.
“He’s coming along. … The velocity’s there. The command is still a work in progress, but you’ve got to like the way the stuff’s coming out, for sure. He just looks more confident on the mound.”
Beachy (1-3) was solid throughout the evening, scattering five hits and one earned run with a pair of strikeouts and one walk, and throwing 46 of his 70 pitches for strikes.
While the 25-year-old right-hander had baserunners in all but one of his innings, and there were a handful of hard-hit balls off him, he kept throwing strikes and allowed his defense to help him out.
“Yeah, I think I took a little bit of a step forward,” Beachy said. “I definitely felt more comfortable with my mechanics than I have before. That’s something to build on.
“I commanded my fastball (Friday) night better than I have before. Part of that was the mechanical thing, just being comfortable and keeping my weight back. I was just trying to throw strikes.”
Mejia gave Beachy a 1-0 lead when he launched a 3-2 pitch from Indianapolis starter Stolmy Pimentel (2-2) over the retaining wall down the left-field line to lead off the bottom of the second.
It was the first baseman’s 25th homer of the season, tying him for the International League lead.
Pimentel actually pitched well, allowing just five hits and two earned runs with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
But the G-Braves padded their lead with Gosselin’s RBI single in the third, and then added another run when a pickoff attempt by Indians catcher Tony Sanchez bounced off the helmet of Alden Carrithers far enough away for the left fielder to scamper home to make the score 3-0.
With the score 4-0, Beachy’s lone walk on the evening came back to bite him in the top of the fifth, with Brian Bocock eventually coming to the plate on Alex Pressley’s two-out RBI single to pull Indianapolis to within 4-1.
But after Pressley stole second, Beachy found his best curveball of the night to strike out Pittsburgh infielder Neil Walker — also in Triple A on an injury rehab assignment — and end his night with a flourish.
“I got into a little trouble when I started working on my curveball in the last inning,” Beachy said. “I didn’t have as much success with that throwing it for a strike, and it got me in trouble. But … that’s always nice when (the pitch) I was struggling with throughout the inning, got me the (last) out. It felt good and leaves a sweet taste in my mouth.”
That taste almost turned a little sour when the Indians, after being shutout by Kameron Loe for two innings, rallied for two runs off the G-Braves’ right-hander in the eight on an RBI double by Ivan DeJesus Jr. and an RBI single from Russ Canzier to pull to within 4-3.
But Loe got Andrew Lambo to line out to left to end the inning, and Cory Rasmus set down Indianapolis in order in the ninth, including two strikeouts, to record his 11th save of the season and close out the win for Beachy and the G-Braves.