ATLANTA — When Vaughn Grissom finished second and Braves third base coach Ron Washington saw him wave him home, he didn’t know what to think.
“In the beginning I was not enthusiastic. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is probably going to be a close play,’ Grissom said.
It was a close play for sure, but it was also one that could have lasting benefits for the Braves, who claimed a crucial 3-2 win over the Mets at Truist Park on Thursday night. The win was due to Washington’s brave decision to let Grissom score on the double by Michael Harris II that bounced through the middle of the infield before landing in midfield.
“When you have two teams, like the Mets and Atlanta Braves, sometimes it comes down to taking a shot at an opportunity,” Washington said. “I took advantage of it and it paid off.”
While only playing in his ninth game, Grissom put an end to Jacob deGrom’s 95-pitch attempt when he scored a single with two outs that flashed off rookie third baseman Brett Baty’s gauntlet in the seventh. Harris then greeted Seth Lugo with a 90.3 mph helicopter that ostensibly had eyes as he dodged the infielders and forced midfielder Brandon Nimmo to run a long way into right midfield.
Harris advanced to second base not realizing that he had just produced a go-ahead double.
“I did not know” [Washington had sent Grissom] until I slipped and got up and I saw [Grissom] halfway down the slide,” Harris said. “They called him safe and that really got me excited. I’m just glad he was on base because he’s very aggressive and he would stop for nothing.”
Washington’s aggressive steering wheel, Grissom’s hustle and Max Fried’s ability to beat theGrom got the Braves going, who are 3 1/2 games back in the National League East after winning three out of four this week. of the first Mets. This week’s success made up for much of the damage done when the Mets played four out of five games in New York earlier this month.
“This was kind of a big game because this was a two game swing here,” Snitker said. “At this time of year, 3 1/2 games are a lot. I remember that from when people were chasing us. But you know what, we just have to go for it and do what we can to win tomorrow.”
With the Astros coming to town for a World Series rematch this weekend, the defending champion’s life isn’t getting any easier. But the challenge of winning a fifth straight division title would have been much more daunting if the Braves hadn’t found a way to win this series final against theGrom and the Mets.
When deGrom faced the Braves on August 7, he held them hitless until Dansby Swanson hit a two-run homerun with two outs in the sixth. Swanson got the righthander again when he marked Thursday’s two-run third with an RBI-double. The Mets tied the game with Mark Canha’s two-run homer in the fifth.
Canha’s homer ended Fried’s 69 1/3-inning homerless streak, which had been MLB’s longest current streak. But this was one of the few mistakes the lefty made, who spread four hits over seven innings, while pitching for the first time since sustaining a concussion on August 6. He wasn’t allowed to throw until he completed a few additional tests. on Wednesday evening.
What was Fried’s take on what could become the most exciting play of the year for the Braves?
“I sat in the backseat [of the dugout]so I didn’t see the ball go through [the infield]’ said Fried. “But I heard the commotion and I sprinted to the top of the stairs. I saw Wash send him and I didn’t know where the ball was. I saw Vaughn run and he was able to make a really great dive. It was a smashing play. I give him credit for running fast.”
Grissom ran onto the field and was only one step away from third base when Nimmo fired the ball to cutoff-man Pete Alonso, whose throw to the plate was just a tap too late.
“That ball hit the right spot,” Nimmo said. “kudos to him for bringing him into play. Good things happen when you put the ball in play. Home plate.”
According to Statcast, it took Grissom 9.58 seconds to run from first base to the plate. To put that in perspective, Ronald Acuña Jr. is the only Braves player to record faster times this year. Acuña covered the distance in 9.48 seconds on August 9 at Fenway Park and 9.51 seconds on July 4 against the Cardinals.
“The only reason I could do it was because Grissom gave me everything he had when he left,” Washington said. “When he rounded second base and I saw where that ball was and saw it come towards me, I said, ‘This is what I’m going for.'”