Mike Minor never had the sinker as part of his pitch repertoire, and based on results of the past two starts it might be some time before he uses it in a game that counts.
The Braves left-hander allowed five runs and three homers in five innings of a 7-4 spring-training loss to the New York Mets on Monday, the second start in a row in which he’s given up that many runs. He’s allowed 16 hits and five walks in nine innings of those games, including six hits and two walks Monday.
Besides the run totals, what the two starts had in common was the sinker, the first times he’s thrown it in games.
“I think today was a lot better, besides the first inning,” said Minor, who was charged with three runs in that inning on three wild pitches, a leadoff walk and a mammoth two-run homer Andrew Brown. “I was trying to throw a bunch of two-seamers again and (pitching coach) Roger (McDowell) finally just told me, ‘Don’t do that again.’”
He also gave up a homer to Jamie Hoffman in the second inning, which bounced high off the batter’s-eye screen above the center-field fence, just as Brown’s did. Both Hoffman and Brown had been dropped from the Mets’ major-league roster on Sunday.
Collin Cowgill hit the Mets’ third homer in the third inning, pushing the lead to 5-0.
Minor, whose spring ERA climbed to 6.26 in six starts, said he wanted to add the sinker to have something other than a straight fastball he could go to when behind in counts, such as 2-0 and 3-1.
“I need to work on it more in the bullpen and pick my spots to throw it,” he said. “I wanted to see it against hitters. It was a lot better today, but I had a couple that were straight — and they went straight out of the ballpark. But overall I felt a lot better. Started throwing in, started jamming a lot of guys and throwing some curveballs and sliders.”