The Atlanta Braves haven’t played the type of baseball worthy of an 8.5-game division lead in recent days. However, they’ve been pretty outstanding in taking the first two games against the National League’s best team in the St. Louis Cardinals. Julio Teheran threw 7 shutout innings, and Andrelton Simmons broke open the scoring with a 2-run double to key a decisive win for Atlanta.
Teheran was outstanding throughout the night, striking out 6 Cardinals and allowing only 2 hits (1 walk) through an 88-pitch outing. The young right-hander has been lights-out for months in Atlanta, but his ERA has now dwindled to an extremely impressive 3.07 on the season with this outing. However, the most impressive portion of his outing was that it came against the blazing-hot Cardinals, who lead the NL in runs scored by a wide margin.
On the offensive side, the aforementioned Simmons blasted a 2-run double to center in the 6th inning, and that was all that Atlanta needed. It’s been an up-and-down season at the dish for Simmons, who has contributed a surprising 10 home runs despite an on-base percentage dwelling in the .280′s. The young shortstop has quickly become the best defensive player at his position (or possibly, any position), but any fireworks he can bring with the bat are almost a bonus.
It is only two games in July, but the Braves may be in the process of making a statement to the rest of the National League. There have been loud whispers about Atlanta’s record since their white-hot start, but if they play like they have against St. Louis, they can beat anyone in either league.