ATLANTA -- After reviewing the video of left-hander Mike Minor's fourth straight shaky start in Wednesday's 8-4 loss to the Marlins, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the problem seemed to be a loss of control by Minor in the fourth inning.
Minor breezed through the first three innings against the Marlins, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced. In the fourth and fifth innings, however, he gave up six runs and got just five outs. Gonzalez said Minor was often missing catcher Brian McCann's target by a wide margin.
"That's something Roger [McDowell] and Mike will sit down and maybe next bullpen session try and iron that out," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez's analysis fit with Minor's own explanation from Wednesday night. Minor said he lost feel for his secondary pitches after the third inning, often throwing them in the dirt. He tried to compensate, but that proved to play into the hands of the Marlins hitters, who were sitting on his fastball.
"My fastball -- I started throwing a lot more just to get a strike," Minor said. "Everything else was down, down, down, down. So I was compounding that with trying to get the ball up. That's belt high for them, and they put the bat on the ball."
Pitch f/x showed the percentage of strikes Minor was throwing didn't decrease in the fourth and fifth innings. Rather the Marlins were doing a better job executing against Minor.
Gonzalez said he thinks the problem is probably with Minor's mechanics, though the issue hasn't been pinpointed.
"I tend to think it's just a little bit of a mechanical breakdown, because the young man is as solid as they come," Gonzalez said.
Jurrjens not as shaky as Minors stats indicate
ATLANTA -- It's fitting that Jair Jurrjens' rough outing for the Gwinnett Braves on Wednesday night took place in Buffalo, as his pitching line buffaloed manager Fredi Gonzalez and anyone who read the morning box score.
Jurrjens was charged with 11 runs, 10 of them earned, in 4 2/3 innings in the G-Braves' 14-7 loss to the Buffalo Bisons at Coca-Cola Field. In his first three Minor League appearances, he had allowed five earned runs in 22 innings of work (a 2.04 ERA).
"I saw box score and I said, 'Oh [wow]!," Gonzalez said prior to Thursday night's series finale with the Marlins. "But then you get the summary update from the manager and the pitching coach. That's the internal report that we get on everybody. He was better than [it looked]."
Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed believes that while Jurrjens may have had something of an off night, he wasn't as bad as the Bisons' official score book indicated.
"Last night might have been the worst scoring job I've seen in the history of baseball," said Reed, who has been around baseball for 30 years and whose past pupils include 2011 National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw, '11 NL Rookie of the Year Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor. "He gave up four earned runs in the first inning. The guy basically dropped a fly ball in right field, and they scored it an inside-the-park home run, which cost him four earned runs. To be honest, it was atrocious.
"He gave up some runs, don't get me wrong. But the line score -- 11 runs, 10 earned -- that wasn't even close to the way he pitched."
There also was a double-play grounder that was mishandled that would have ended an inning.
Gonzalez admitted that he was relieved after reading the summary report from G-Braves manager Dave Brundage and Reed. He said he learned long ago not to trust box scores.
"Sometimes you see 4-for-4 and then you see the game report, and it's three broken-bat singles and an infield single," Gonzalez said with a laugh.
While Jurrjens' ERA took a hit -- it's up to 5.06 -- his health is fine.
Reed doesn't believe in putting too much stock in numbers, regardless, pointing out that they sometimes can play tricks.
"There are times when the numbers look good and the stuff isn't as good as you think it should be," he said. "[Jurrjens'] first game out, I think he went seven innings and gave up one run. When you just watch the stuff, it wasn't seven innings worth of stuff to give up one run. Sometimes you make good plays behind him, too. But I think he's progressing. He's making strides. He's able to work on some of the things that he probably needed to work on while he was up there.
"He's working on his physical strength. He's getting himself in really great condition. Our strength and conditioning coach Matt Parvis is spending a lot of time with him, and he's putting in the work. He's able to work on his changeup and try to get a little bit more on his fastball. You can't work on some of those things in the big leagues."
One thing Jurrjens hasn't had to work on is his attitude. That has remained professional on the field, and happy-go-lucky off it.
"As I told [general manager] Frank Wren and [pitching coach] Roger McDowell, this guy could not be any better than what he has been," Reed said. "[He's been] nothing but exemplary. His work ethic's been great, he's done a lot of the things that he's not used to doing, all the different little things you do in the Minor Leagues that you don't do in the big leagues. Tedious jobs and things like that, with no problems what so ever.
"Anything I've asked him to do, he's done it and he's done it with a smile on his face. I've got nothing but great things to say about how he's handled it."
Heyward handles his own in first start in center
ATLANTA -- Jason Heyward's two favorite players growing up were Ken Griffey Jr. and Derek Jeter. On Wednesday, Heyward got to do his best impression of Griffey, playing center field in the Braves' 8-4 loss to the Marlins.
It was the first time Heyward had played center field in his Major League career, which spans 306 games. He caught all three balls hit his way, including a shallow fly ball off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton that initially fooled Heyward.
"It looked off the bat like he hit another ball that would go to the wall and had a chance to be out [of the park]," Heyward said. "I ended up having to come in for it."
Heyward's chance in center field came as a result of Michael Bourn taking his first game off this season. Heyward said while he tries to model Griffey in center field, Bourn is also a good example of how to play the position.
"When I played center field in the past, [Griffey] was somebody you could watch and say, 'There's a certain way to get it done,'" Heyward said. "Mike Bourn most definitely is one of the guys you watch. You can learn a thing or two about how he plays center field, as well."
Before the game Wednesday, Heyward said Bourn gave him a vote of confidence.
"He was like, 'You've got it,'" Heyward said. "'You don't need any help.'"
Heyward was back in right field for Thursday's series finale against the Marlins. And he isn't expecting to get another chance in center field anytime soon.
"[Manager Fredi Gonzalez], today, we came in and he said, 'You played center field yesterday and now you're out of there, back to right field,'" Heyward said. "He was like, 'I'll see you in another 30 days.'"
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.