For those who question whether defense is as important as offense in baseball, I have two words for you: Andrelton F’n Simmons.
The Braves won Wednesday night 3-2 behind the powerful right arms of their Caribbean connection, Julio Teheran and Andrelton Simmons. Teheran (13-9) pitched 6 1/3 strong innings, allowing one run on only three hits, one of them a solo HR to Wilmer Flores. Teheran walked two and struck out four, and finished with a pitch count of 101 (60 strikes). His ERA on the season falls to 2.90.
However, it was Simmons who stole the show with his glove. With the tying run on third base, Mets catcher Travis D’Arnaud hit a grounder deep in the hole to shortstop. Simmons ranged far to his right onto the outfield grass, backhanded the ball, and made an incredibly strong, off-balance, jumping, one hop throw to Freeman to get the third out and end the threat.
The Braves TV crew had already awarded their defensive play of the game honors two innings earlier….to Andrelton Simmons, for a different display of his wizardry.
Jason Heyward led off the game with his 11th HR of the year to start the scoring for the Braves. The Braves scored a run in the third inning, and were gifted another when Freddie Freeman scored from third on an error by SS Ruben Tejada.
The Mets scored on a solo HR by Flores in the 2nd inning, and a single, wild pitch, and a single in the 8th inning.
Craig Kimbrel, who had pitched only one inning in the previous 10 days, came on to collect the Save. It was his 39th of the year, but it wasn’t without some drama. Third baseman Eric Campbell led off with a single, followed by a walk from left fielder Matt den Dekker. A sacrifice bunt from Wilmer Flores left Kimbrel with the tying run at third base and the winning run at second base, with only one out. Ruben Tejada grounded to third baseman Phil Gosselin, who made a strong throw to the plate to get Campbell. Kirk Nieuwenhuis then flied out to end the game.
The Mets were not without their own displays of defense. Juan Lagares made a very nice play to show why he is the best CF in baseball, and, depending on the metric used, may be the best OF in baseball:
Game Three of the series will be Thursday evening at 7:10PM. The Braves will send Mike Minor (5-8, 4.90) to the mound, while the Mets will counter with Jonathon Niese (7-9, 3.47).