In what feels like a now weekly occurrence, Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons made a defensive play worthy of the highest possible praise on Wednesday night. Only this time, it doubled as a potential game saver, as Simmons' heroics prevented the game-tying run from crossing home in Atlanta's eventual 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.
It happened in the eighth inning with a runner on third, two outs and rookie Travis d'Arnaud at the plate. d'Arnaud hit a grounder deep into the hole at short, which forced Simmons to range about three steps into the outfield. That was not a problem for Simmons. However, the angle and his distance from first base made it seem like an impossible play for him to complete unless he pulled off some magic.
As we should have learned by now, Simmons is absolutely capable of creating magic.
In two fluid steps, Simmons snagged the ball and then launched into the air while twisting his body into an off-balance, mid-air throwing motion.
Again, if you broke this play down frame-by-frame, you'd think there's no way that process could result in a strong enough or accurate enough throw to beat a major league baserunner. But the rules of physics don't apply to Simmons.
Sure, his throw took a single hop to Freddie Freeman's glove, but it had plenty of steam and was accurate enough that the skilled first baseman could pick it clean to complete an amazing out. By a good half-step mind you. There was no controversy at all over the call. d'Arnaud was out, and he was also admittedly impressed by Simmons' effort.
''It looks like he has no chance, and then in the last second, he just reaches for it and throws it,'' d'Arnaud said. ''What a great play.''
Considering the game-situation and Atlanta's place in the standings, this play definitely deserves a high spot on Simmons growing list of defensive gems. And perhaps even a free dinner.
''Two out, man on third, not only does he make the play, but he makes an accurate throw to first base,'' Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ''Today, Teheran should take him out to dinner because he saved him the win.''
Gonzalez is refering to starter Julio Teheran, who picked up win No. 13. Simmons' gem actually directly saved reliever Jordan Walden, who allowed one run on two hits in the eighth inning. Craig Kimbrel earned the save in the ninth, although that also required a great escape with one runner being thrown out at home.
This night, though, belonged to Simmons, as once again we marveled at his unbelievable combination of instincts, quickness, range, accuracy and arm strength. He's a five-tool defender if there ever was one.
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