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Braves Bullpen Bullies Mets In 5-4 Victory

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The two Simmons players came up big today as their efforts helped the Braves edge the Mets for their 6th straight victory

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a not-so-sharp outing from Mike Minor, Shae Simmons and the rest of the Braves bulpen picked up the slack and shut down the Mets while Andrelton Simmons' good night at the plate helped give Atlanta another close victory over the New York.

After a scoreless 1st inning, it looked as if the 2nd inning would be scoreless as well after Justin Upton and Jason Heyward led off that inning with 2 quick outs. However, Chris Johnson kept the inning alive with a grounder to right. After Johnson managed to somehow steal 2nd base, Daisuke Matsuzaka hit Tommy La Stella on his ankle to put runners on 1st and 2nd for Christian Bethancourt. C-Beth then looped one right up the middle for a hit that scored Chris Johnson. Even though TLS got caught between 2nd and 3rd base, that didn't dampen the fact that Christian Bethancourt got his first career RBI to put the Braves ahead.

However, since this is a Mets-Braves game in Atlanta, you knew that things would not be easy for the Braves, so of course they eventually fell behind. The Mets kicked off the next frame with 2 successful bunts from Juan Lagares (bunt single) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (sac bunt). This brought Curtis Granderson to the plate, and Granderson proceeded to hit an 86-mph slider from Mike Minor into the right field seats for a 2-run homer that gave the Mets the lead.

Atlanta fired right back in the next frame, as they were able to once again do damage with 2 outs. After Minor and B.J. Upton grounded out to start the inning, Andrelton Simmons came up with the novel idea of hitting a ground ball where there weren't any Mets. He was successful in his innovation and reached 1st base. Freddie Freeman then came up and seized on the opportunity by hitting a gapper to left that nearly left the park. It bounced off the wall and by the time the Mets collected the ball, Andrelton Simmons was on his way home for the game-tying run and Freddie Freeman was on his way to 2nd for a stand-up double. The Braves wouldn't score any more in that frame, but they had plenty more left in the tank for the next inning.

The bottom half of the 4th started pretty positively for Atlanta, as Chris Johnson reached on a walk from Matsuzaka. However, a ground out from La Stella and a strikeout from Bethancourt later, the Braves were once again in a bit of a 2-out hole. With that being said, this was the type of night where if there were 2 outs, then the Braves had Dice-K right where they wanted him.

Mike Minor may not have had the best day on the mound, but at the plate it was a different story, as he helped himself out with a RBI. Minor hit the first pitch he saw right up the middle for a base hit that brought in Chris Johnson to score, giving the Braves a 3-2 lead. A single from B.J. Upton moved Mike Minor all the way to 3rd base. B.J. then stole 2nd, and that set the table for Andrelton Simmons to try to make something happen. What eventually happened was that Simba brought in both Minor and Upton with a single to left, giving the Braves a nice, fat 3-run lead.

That 3-run lead was short-lived, as Mike Minor nearly squandered the lead that he himself helped build in the previous inning. Minor kicked off the top of the 5th by getting Granderson to fly out. That would be the last out that Minor recorded for the night. He then proceeded to walk Ruben Tejada, which brought Daniel Murphy up to the plate. Murphy then smacked a changeup over the right field fence for a 2-run homer that cut the Braves' lead to 1. The Mets then got back-to-back singles to put some more ducks on the pond, and that was when Fredi gave Minor the hook in favor of Shae Simmons.

Yes, Shae Simmons came on in the 5th inning, which is definitely much earlier than we're used to seeing him. Even though it was an early appearance, Shae didn't disappoint, as he cleaned up Minor's mess in the 5th and then pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, helping to preserve the lead for the Braves.

Luis Avilan and Jordan Walden followed Shae's example as they both pitched clean innings in the 7th and 8th. With the 1-run lead still intact going into the 9th, it was time for Craig Kimbrel. 3 outs later, Craig Kimbrel Time ended and Handshake Time began as the Braves rode their bullpen home for a 5-4 win.

As much as Mike Minor struggled (4.1 IP, 4 ER, 2 HRs allowed, 1 BB, 5 Ks), that's how much the bullpen excelled, as only 1 Met reached base once the bullpen entered the game, and that was Travis d'Arnaud, who singled off of Walden in the 8th. Other than that, Atlanta's bullpen completely locked down New York, and their performance along with a solid night at the plate from Andrelton Simmons was what ultimately pushed the Braves towards their 6th consecutive victory, keeping them atop the NL East for the time being.

Source: FanGraphs