The advantage went to the Braves at shortstop in win over the Mets

By Rich Mancuso

 Ruben Tejada made an error at shortstop in the third inning at Citi Field Wednesday evening and a run that the Atlanta Braves scored off that miscue was a difference in the Mets 3-2 loss. Then there is Andrelton Simmons, the Braves shortstop who made a defensive play of the year in the eighth inning that prevented the game from being tied.

Yes, there is that difference at the shortstop position with the two teams. Tejada has been regulated to the bench more often as Wilmer Flores gets more playing time at the position. But with Daniel Murphy out of the lineup again with a bad calf, Tejada got the start at short and Flores at second.

Simmons, on the other hand, is considered the best defensive shortstop in the game. With two outs, and the tying run at third, he went into left field and made a throw to nail a hustling Travis d’Arnaud at first base. It may have been a better play than the many Derek Jeter has made over the years in the Bronx with the Yankees.

“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 about Simmons’ ability to go two steps into left field and make the strong throw to first.

“Great play by Simmons,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “The old cliché speaks volumes. If your defense is good up the middle you’re gonna win. He made the difference.”  The play Tejada botched was a routine ball he always charges, difficult at times, but miscues like this one do not help his cause to earn more playing time and be a part of this Mets rebuilding process for next year, even though he has handled the position well the past week.

Collins said about the error, “He’s made that play six times in the last week. It just popped out of his glove. He’s played so well defensively that I was pretty surprised that he did not make the play.”

Fortunately for the Mets there was no further damage as starter Zach Wheeler was able to get out of the inning. Wheeler allowed a leadoff home run to Jason Heyward in the first inning and over 7.0 innings allowed four hits,  

The Mets, with one of the poorest hitting percentages in baseball from the shortstop position, have not hidden the fact that they will be looking to change that look during the off season. Flores did provide some offense. He hit a second inning 3-1 pitch off winning pitcher Julio Teheran into the Pepsi Part deck in left field, his second home run of the season and first of his career at Citi Field.

Then in the ninth inning, with the tying and go-ahead runs on base, with the infield in, Tejada got a look but hit a ground ball to third base and Eric Campbell was forced out at home.

“It made the difference in this game today,” Tejada said about the error. “It was a routine play I have to execute with two outs. He made no excuses about the ground ball out and said, “You have to be aggressive on the first pitch against him,” referring to Braves’ closer Craig Kimbrel who went on to get his 39th save.

And with Murphy not expected in the lineup for another few days, Tejada is expected back at short for the series finale Thursday night and Flores manning second base.

The Braves helped themselves with a win and remained 1/1-2 game behind the Giants for the second wild card spot in the National league.

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