Kawakami focused on further developing the pitch in Spring Training and saw some results on Sunday, when he induced 11 groundouts and needed just 65 pitches to complete six innings against the Giants. Two of the runs he surrendered came courtesy of Mark DeRosa's two-out sixth-inning single, and if his spot in the batting order not come up in the top of the seventh, the 34-year-old right-hander would have likely been sent to the mound for at least one more inning.
Last year, Kawakami worked into the seventh inning in just six of his 25 starts. While proving perfect through his first three innings on Sunday, he threw just 30 pitches and registered seven groundouts.
"His two-seamer looked great," Braves catcher Brian McCann said. "He was pitching against an aggressive team and throwing that pitch that looks like a fastball and then just drops off the table. It can be a good weapon for him this year."