Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) sets to throw out an Arizona Diamondbacks batter during the fourth inning at Turner Field on July, 4, 2014. (USA TODAY Sports: Dale Zanine)
ATLANTA — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons is widely considered the best fielding shortstop in baseball. He won his first Gold Glove a year ago in his second season in the major leagues. That’s why it was almost startling to see a pair of errors by his name in a boxscore.
Simmons had two errors in the first inning of Saturday’s game against the Diamondbacks, but came back to drive in a career-high four runs and spark the Braves to their ninth straight victory.
“I’m just glad we got the win,” Simmons said.
Simmons has made eight errors this year. He had only 14 a year ago.
“He doesn’t like to give up runs,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He feels like he let the team down, like he let the pitcher down. That’s his pride.”
Simmons continues to show tremendous range and a rifle arm. A year ago, he saved 41 runs, 12 more than any other shortstop in the league. Atlanta radio broadcaster Jim Powell says shortstop is “where ground balls go to die” when Simmons is in the field.
“He’s a terrific player but sometimes you make errors,” Gonzalez said. “He told me he was embarrassed. I told him, ‘You’ve got a long career ahead of you and that won’t be the last time you make two errors in an inning. Don’t worry about it.’”
Simons has been a steady offensive contributor. He is batting .265 with 29 RBIs and has been a solid No. 2 hitter since center fielder B.J. Upton was moved to the leadoff spot two weeks ago. He went 2-for-4 on Sunday and now has five straight two-hit games. Simmons was 11-for-24 on the 10-game homestand and 6-for-12 against the Diamondbacks. Simmons has hit safely in six straight games.
Simmons is also the second-toughest player to strike out in the National League, fanning 31 times in 310 at-bats.
Atlanta Braves - PLAYER NOTES:
—RHP Craig Kimbrel was named to his fourth straight All-Star Game on Sunday. He currently leads the majors with 27 saves while posting a 2.04 ERA, 60 strikeouts and just 18 hits allowed.
—RHP Julio Teheran will replace RHP Jeff Samardzija, who was voted to the National League All-Star team as a member of the Chicago Cubs before he was dealt to the Oakland A’s on Saturday. “This was my goal at the start of this season, I wanted to go to (the All-Star Game),” Teheran said. “It’s something I’ve been watching since I was a little kid. I just feel now that my dream has come true.”
—1B Freddie Freeman was named a reserve infielder for the National League All-Star team on Sunday. “This is truly an honor to be voted by the players. It’s something I don’t take lightly,” Freeman said. “Hopefully, we’ll make it through these next seven games and get there healthy.”
—LHP Alex Wood continues to be victimized by lack of support. He lost 3-1 on Sunday, which marked the seventh start in which he’s received one or fewer runs of support. Atlanta is scoring only a team-low 1.8 runs per game when Wood starts. He allowed three hits over seven innings, one of them a two-run homer to 1B Paul Goldschmidt that determined the outcome.
—CF B.J. Upton saw his career-long 11-game hitting streak come to an end on Sunday. Upton was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Upton hit .283 (13-for-46) with a double, two triples, one home run and four RBIs during the streak.
—3B Chris Johnson ended a 0-for-11 slide with an RBI single in the fourth inning, his 28th RBI of the year. Nine of those have come against left-handers, against whom he’s batting a league-leading .423. But Johnson struck out in a key spot in the eighth inning with one out and runners on the corners.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “That guy’s got a lot of people. He’s pretty legit. But three inches the other way and it might have been foul.” — Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez on Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt, whose homer was the difference in a loss Sunday.