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Mets come up short at shortstop

8/28/2014

NEW YORK -- One shortstop cost his team a run. The other shortstop saved his team a game.

There's more than one difference between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves, but shortstop isn't a bad place to start, especially after Wednesday's 3-2 Braves win at Citi Field.

The Braves' Andrelton Simmons made a play that was spectacular, even by his high standards, to end the eighth inning and keep the tying run from scoring. The Mets' Ruben Tejada made an error that was sloppy, even by his much lower standards, and cost Zack Wheeler the run that ended up being the difference in the game.

Tejada also came up with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position in the ninth inning, and, with the infield in, hit a ground ball to third base.

Tejada was playing short because Wilmer Flores was playing second because Daniel Murphy missed a second consecutive game because of a calf injury. Flores did hit a home run, but he's done little offensively or defensively to suggest he's any more of an answer at shortstop than Tejada is.

The Mets don't seem to have a major league shortstop on their roster. The Braves have one of the best there is.

And if you don't believe it, go to the highlights and take a look at the play Simmons made to rob Travis d'Arnaud in the eighth inning Wednesday. The Mets had scored one run but still trailed by one, and d'Arnaud was up with two out and the tying run on third.

An hour after the game ended, d'Arnaud hadn't yet seen the replay of what Simmons did to him. He didn't need to.

"I heard," he said. "In slow motion, it looks like he had no chance. Then, at the last moment, he just reached for it, got it and made a perfect throw."

D'Arnaud's ground ball seemed headed to left field, but Simmons went three steps onto the outfield grass and in one motion turned and threw a bullet to first base.

"Reminded me of [Derek] Jeter," Wheeler said.

But Jeter doesn't make the play Simmons did. Certainly not now, and probably not even in his prime.

"I didn't think [Simmons] had a prayer," Murphy said.

He not only had a prayer, he made the play. He not only made the play, but it wasn't even that close at first base.

"When he made the play, I said I'd like to go out and challenge it," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "But I knew he was out. All I'd do is delay the game."

D'Arnaud joked he'd have to do more jump rope to get a little faster. He also said that he knows better than to hit a ball to Simmons, whom he says has robbed him four or five times (including once when Simmons threw the ball while sitting down).

"When I hit it there, I just put my head down and run," d'Arnaud said.

No one has ever said that about Ruben Tejada or Wilmer Flores.

Black relieved: Mets reliever Vic Black will miss a few more days, but he was happy that an MRI on his neck showed only a slight herniation of a disk.

"The doctor didn't seem too concerned," Black said. "It shouldn't be a big deal. Big sigh of relief."

Murphy sees slight improvement: Murphy said his calf felt better than it did Tuesday, but he had no activity at all Wednesday and wouldn't guess when he'll be back in the lineup.