Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons combined offensively to give the Atlanta Braves (36-32) the youthful push it needed to beat the surging New York Yankees (41-26), 4-3.
Heyward, who has been one of the targets of criticism for the Braves’ subpar season, had one of his best nights of the season at the plate going 2-for-3 and knocking in the game-winning run. The 22-year-old Georgia native hit a triple off of Hiroki Kuroda (6-7) to lead off the third inning before Simmons brought him home with an RBI groundout. Atlanta’s right fielder later brought in Brian McCann, the game-deciding run, with an RBI single in the sixth inning, however, his most impressive feat of the night was throwing out Mark Teixiera at home plate.
“That’s the best throw I’ve seen him make. Especially under pressure,” All-Star Chipper Jones told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution (AJC). “And he swung the bat good, too. He got us kind of kick-started there early, then put the icing on the cake late.”
Simmons also played well to help snap the Braves’ five-game losing streak to the Yankees. Atlanta’s rookie shortstop went 2-for-4 and drove in two teammates, including Freddie Freeman, who played in his first game since last Tuesday.
“What have we got, three of them out there right now, with Freeman?” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said of his younger players’ performance. “It’s nice to see those guys playing on a big stage like this against a big team that’s hot as a firecracker.”
Veteran right-hander Tim Hudson (5-3, 3.88 ERA) pitched his 12th career game against the Yankees and earned his second win in six decisions against the franchise. For five innings, Hudson toughed it out throwing 109 pitches (65 strikes), striking out five batters, walking six Yankees, and giving up two earned runs before being leaving the mound. Relief pitchers Chad Durbin, Jonny Venters, and Eric O’Flaherty pitched a scoreless inning apiece to set up closer Craig Kimbrel for his NL-leading 20th save in 21 opportunties.
With a win on Tuesday, the New York Yankees would have tied their longest winning streak in nearly 50 years.
Despite their positive offensive performance on Tuesday, Atlanta’s defense was once again key to their success. The Braves overcame two errors by Freeman and veteran third baseman Chipper Jones by throwing out two Yankees at the plate. Jones redeemed himself for his uncharacteristic error by making a nice throw home to McCann in the seventh inning to tag Curtis Granderson out.
“You play third base, you know you’re going to have the lowest-fielding percentage in the infield,” Jones told ESPN.com of his error. “You get some rockets, some balls with topspin. The big thing on that play was the pick. Once I picked it, I could make the throw and Mac set a nice target.”
With their second win in their last nine games, Atlanta is now 3.5 games behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East after their loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4. The Braves will start Tommy Hanson (7-4) on Wednesday in their series finale against New York. Following the series, Atlanta will head north to wrap up their six-game road trip against the Boston Red Sox.
About the Author
Written by Jourdan Shepard
New York born. New Jersey bred. Earned my degree on a Georgia clay hill. "Rooting for my rival is like wanting the house to win in blackjack...."