Three Cuts: Simmons, Teheran help Braves blank Cards

BY foxsports • July 27, 2013

ATLANTA — Here are three things we learned from the Braves' 2-0 victory over the Cardinals, before a hearty, red-clad crowd of 48,312.

For the first seven innings, neither the Braves (59-45) nor Cardinals (59-45) mounted many serious scoring charges, leaving a few in the press box to wonder if the nationally televised game was ripe for 14, 15 or even 16 innings of scoreless action.

But from Atlanta's perspective, things changed for the better in the 8th, with Freddie Freeman earning a leadoff walk, Brian McCann stroking a single and Chris Johnson walking against the Cardinals — setting the stage for a bases-loaded, two-out grudge match between Simmons and imposing reliever Trevor Rosenthal (2.23 ERA, 71/10 K-BB rate before Saturday).

The previous inning, the Braves loaded the bases (one out) for slugger Justin Upton; but that rally quickly ended off a 6-3 double play on the first pitch.

For Simmons' own chance at glory, he kept calm in the box, despite never encountering Rosenthal in the big leagues. After three suspenseful pitches, Simmons then dug in and laced a line-drive double to center field, with the ball falling helplessly in front of the Cards' John Jay.

With the timely hit, Freeman and McCann easily scored the clinching runs.

In the post-game media scrum, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez deftly handled a question involving Simmons batting eighth against St. Louis, instead of his usual leadoff role.

"I think he's one of those guys you can put in anywhere, and he'll come up big," said Gonzalez. "He's given us good at-bats (all year), and that one in the 8th was big."

Gonzalez's repeated use of the word "big" was apropos on this day, as the Braves have collected two signature victories, against a pennant-contending opponent, in the span of 22 hours. (Lest we forget last year's wild-card defeat, as well.)