NEW YORK – Call him Game Ender, and perhaps go ahead and start engraving Ender Inciarte’s name on a Gold Glove.
The Braves came back from three-run deficit Wednesday and swept the Mets with a 4-3 win in a game that ended in spectacular fashion when Inciarte sprinted over 100 feet and leaped to rob Yoenis Cespedes of a would-be three-run walk-off homer, catching the ball with his glove above the fence for the final out.
“This is the best feeling I’ve had in a baseball game,” said Inciarte, who also drove in the winning run with an RBI ground-out in the ninth inning. “Robbing a home run in that situation, it’s a really special feeling.”
Braves left fielder Matt Kemp said, “That was just an incredible catch by Inciarte…. It was an unbelievable catch. I’m sure it will be top plays on SportsCenter tonight. As a hitter, I would be really mad at him right now.”
Cespedes limited his postgame interview to one question about the catch and said through his interpreter: “I knew I hit the ball well. I knew there was a good chance it was going to make it out, but he made a better play.’’
Teammates raced out of the dugout to celebrate with Inciarte, who kissed the ball as he trotted in from center field after the Braves’ fifth consecutive win — all against playoff-bound Washington and wild-card contender New York — and their sixth consecutive win at Citi Field since Brian Snitker took over as interim manager May 17.
“That’s as good a catch as you’ll ever see,” said Snitker, who called it the best game he’s experienced and said of the players’ celebration: “Oh, God, guys were flying over the railing. Before Ender even got down (from the catch) I think Mallex was halfway out there. It just erupted.
“I don’t think you could have won the World Series and had a bigger explosion than that right there.”
For the Braves, Snitker has said this final stretch has been like their playoffs, and the manager said it’s been gratifying to see how hard they’ve played every day and how they refuse to go down easily, even when trailing by multiple runs against teams competing for playoff spots.
“In the fourth or fifth inning Adonis (Garcia) told me, they better start scoring some runs because we’re not going to stay at zero,” Inciarte said. “That’s the kind of attitude we want to have. We ended up scoring four runs and winning that ballgame. It was a really special game for all of us.
“The way we’re playing shows the way we want to handle things for the future. This is playoff atmosphere right now and we’re playing like we’re in the playoffs. We know we’re not going to make it this year, but we are building for what the future is going to bring for us.”
The way they’ve played under Snitker, he might shed that interim tag before much longer. The Braves improved to 13-8 in their past 21 games and 24-23 since Matt Kemp joined the team Aug. 2.
Kemp drove in the tying run Wednesday with a sacrifice fly on a nine-pitch at-bat in the eighth inning.
“It was really exciting,” Kemp said. “Honestly, we’re never out of any game, with the offense we have, the way we’ve been hitting the ball. That was a good team win right there, moving guys over and doing the little things to get that win.”
They did little things to take the lead, then got a really big thing from Inciarte to preserve it. It was the kind of catch that becomes known as The Catch.
“This is probably the best catch I’ve ever made,” Inciarte said. “I was really pumped up, but the funniest part is I caught the ball and I knew I had it, but after a minute the fans were still waiting for me to take the ball out of the glove. So after I took it out, after a minute, everybody was like (sighs). So that was really fun.”
Facing veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon, the Braves were in a bad spot after falling behind 2-0 in the first inning before rookie Ryan Weber even recorded an out. He walked leadoff man Jose Reyes on four pitches and gave up a homer to the next batter, Asdrubal Cabrera.
Down 3-0 after a Rene Rivera homer off Weber in the fourth inning, the Braves started their comeback with Anthony Recker’s two-run homer in the seventh off Colon, who pitched a three-hit shutout through six innings. Recker spent the past three seasons with the Mets and caught Colon 17 times during 2014-2015.
Braves relievers Chaz Roe and Ian Krol turned back a prime Mets scoring opportunity in the eighth, after a Cespedes one-out double off Brandon Cunniff. Curtis Granderson was intentionally walked before Roe entered and struck out T.J. Rivera with two runners in scoring position after a double-steal.
Eric Campbell was walked intentionally to load the bases before Krol struck out pinch-hitter Kevin Plawecki. Krol slapped his glove as he bounded off the mound to the dugout after the big out.
Freddie Freeman’s fourth-inning single extended his hitting streak to 25 games and his on-base streak to 41 games, both career bests and the longest active streaks in the majors. The on-base streak is the second-longest in the majors this season and third-longest in Atlanta franchise history.
Weber settled down after the Cabrera homer and allowed four hits (two home runs), two walks and three runs with three strikeouts in five innings. He didn’t give up another hit until the fourth inning and the Mets didn’t score again after the first inning until Rene Rivera’s one-out homer in the fifth.