‘Game Ender’ Inciarte Denies Yoenis Cespedes Walk-Off HR In Braves’ 4-3 Win Over Mets
Up until the bottom of the ninth inning on Wednesday night, the New York Mets, who trailed the Atlanta Braves 4-3, still believed they still had a chance to tie up the game and perhaps even win at home.
Inciarte Denies Yoenis Cespedes Walk-Off HR In Braves’ 4-3 Win Over Mets
Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte thought otherwise, however. Yoenis Cespedes ripped an 0-1 fastball to right-center field, and Inciarte gave chase, reaching the wall just a few feet away from the 380 marker. He leaped and caught the ball from beyond the fence to rob Cespedes of a walk-off homer and secure the game-ending out to lead the Braves to a thrilling victory over the Mets at Citi Field.
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With the win, Atlanta capped a three-game sweep of the Mets.
“This is probably the best catch I’ve ever made,” Inciarte said. “I thought the ball was gone off the bat, but it was the last play of the game, so I just went for it. I was really pumped up. I caught the ball, and I knew I had it. But the fans were waiting until I took it out of the glove.”
The 25-year-old Venezuelan’s catch gave Braves fans a reason to celebrate. It gave Atlanta its sixth consecutive win at Citi Field and its fifth straight overall. The Mets, meanwhile, have now lost an opportunity to pass the Cardinals and Giants in the National League Wild Card race. The Mets remained tied with St. Louis and San Francisco, both of whom lost on Wednesday.
According to Statcast™, Cespedes’ drive had an exit velocity of 101.7 mph and a launch angle of 28 degrees.
After taking a 3-0 lead on Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-run homer in the first inning and Rene Rivera’s solo shot in the fifth, New York looked as if they race to victory from there. However, an Anthony Recker two-run shot in the seventh brought Atlanta back within a run of the lead, before a Dansby Swanson single chased Mets starter Bartolo Colon from the game.
Mets manager Terry Collins made several unusual bullpen decisions at that point, bringing right-hander Addison Reed into the game in the seventh, lefty specialist Josh Smoker in the eighth and closer Jeurys Familia in the final inning, as the game nearly became decided. All of these decisions backfired when Matt Kemp tied it up with a sacrifice fly off Familia. One inning later, Inciarte smacked a go-ahead RBI groundout.
Inciarte’s game-ending catch that denied Cespedes of a walk-off homer seemed to shock everyone.
“We all thought it was out,” Rivera said. “It’s a shame that he made that great play. Good for them, bad for us.”
Among outfield catches this season in which the ball had a hang time of less than 5.5 seconds and launch angle of under 28 degrees, Inciarte’s distance covered of 104 feet ranks seventh.
No.1 on that list is Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton, who ran 123 feet to rob Carlos Beltran under similar circumstances on Aug. 23. The main difference, however, is that Hamilton didn’t have to make his catch against a wall.
Braves manager Brian Snitker praised his team following the win.
“They performed just like they have been,” Snitker said. “It’s a cliché, but they just don’t quit.”
Cabrera’s home run was his 21st this season (20 of those are as a shortstop)– good for sole possession of the franchise record he briefly shared with Jose Reyes. Alex Rodriguez currently holds the MLB record with 57 homers as a shortstop in 2002, one of six seasons in which he hit more than 40 while playing that position.
The Braves next travel to Miami, where they’ll play their final four road games of the season. Right-hander Josh Collmenter (2-0, 4.61 ERA) will start Thursday night’s series opener at Marlins Park.
The Mets, meanwhile, will host the Phillies for a four-game series that begins Thursday. Righty Seth Lugo (4-2, 2.35 ERA) will take the mound, facing lefty Adam Morgan (2-10, 5.57 ERA) in the opener.
PHOENIX, AZ – AUGUST 25: Ender Inciarte #11 of the Atlanta Braves makes a sliding catch during the fourth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 25, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Atlanta Braves won 3-1. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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