Pierzynski’s shot at the record books

In any other career, 38-year-old A.J. Pierzynski might not even be in his prime yet, but he’s the resident old man in the Braves’ clubhouse — especially considering he’s a catcher with 15 years of major league service.

He played like the 24-year-old Pierzynski who broke into the majors with the Minnesota Twins in the Braves’ 6-4 win against the New York Mets on Saturday night, going 3-for-4 with just a home run missing for the cycle.

“It’s amazing how this guy has caught 15 years in the big leagues,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Today: triple, play at the plate, goes first to third, double, single and catches balls and foul tips everywhere, and he’s been able to go out and withstand all that stuff and the punishment of catching 15 years and he still gives you great at-bats.”

Pierzynski began his day at the plate legging out a triple on a ball down the right-field line in the second inning, becoming the oldest Braves player to hit a triple since Chipper Jones hit one April 27, 2011, when he was 39.

“He felt fast today, he didn’t want to stop running,” Andrelton Simmons said after the game with a laugh. “Stretching doubles into triples, taking the extra base, going home on a shallow fly ball. He was doing it all.”

In the fourth inning, Pierzynski fought off a pitch from Mets starter Noah Syndergaard for a flare single to right field. He sprinted from first to third minutes later when Simmons hit a bloop single to center. Two batters later, Pierzynzki tagged up on Pedro Ciriaco’s shallow fly ball and ran through Travis d’Arnaud’s tag to score his second of three runs on the day.

“It’s the first time I saw him run that much, he was all over the place,” Simmons said. “Literally all over the place.”

Pierzynski poked an opposite-field double down the third-base line on a shifted defense in the sixth, leaving him with just a home run to become the first Braves player to hit for the cycle since Mark Kotsay did it against the Chicago Cubs on August 14, 2008.

Pierzynski wasted no time in his next at-bat, swinging at a first-pitch fastball from Sean Gilmartin with two outs in the seventh. He cranked it about 375 feet…to straightaway center, falling harmlessly in Juan Lagares’ glove.

“For a split second (I thought he hit a homer),” Simmons said. “He knew (he didn’t). I think after he hit it he was like, ‘Aw, I just missed it.’ But I thought he thought he got it.”

“Jonny Gomes summed it up: try again next year,” Pierzynski said with a smile.

Pierzynski needed a good night, as he’d hit .242 in his past 10 games and gotten three hits in his previous 20 at-bats.

Simmons had a great night of his own, going 4-for-4 with four singles, an RBI and two runs scored.

“I saw the ball good tonight. Worked the counts, tried to do the right thing every at-bat and got good results,” he said. “I got some tough pitches, I didn’t square them up but I did the right things I feel like. A good approach. Got good enough contact to get hits.”

Pierzynski, Simmons and Eury Perez — Atlanta’s six, seven and eight hitters — recorded nine of the team’s 10 hits and scored five of the six runs. Perez is batting .300 with an RBI in three starts since getting called up Thursday.

“Maybe there’s a reason (Jace) Peterson and (Cameron) Maybin are second and third on the team in RBIs,” Gonzalez said. “Those guys at the bottom of the order are getting on and those guys at the top are driving them in. So whatever the formula is, the bottom line is getting those guys in when we have to.”

Simmons is second on the team with 42 runs scored behind Freddie Freeman’s 43. Pierzynski is sixth on the team with 23.