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Acuna robs homer ... then pretends he didn't

@mlbbowman
August 16, 2019

ATLANTA -- Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. was still displaying a mischievous smile when he was asked if he had preplanned the deception after masterfully robbing J.D. Davis of a home run in the sixth inning of the Mets’ 10-8 win on Thursday night at SunTrust Park. “I’ve done it

ATLANTA -- Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. was still displaying a mischievous smile when he was asked if he had preplanned the deception after masterfully robbing J.D. Davis of a home run in the sixth inning of the Mets’ 10-8 win on Thursday night at SunTrust Park.

“I’ve done it a couple times in the Minor Leagues,” Acuna said through an interpreter. “So, it’s something I was definitely used to. It was just an old custom that I brought here.”

As soon as the ball left Davis’ bat, Acuna turned to his left and began racing toward the left-center-field wall. After beginning to measure his steps along the warning track, the 21-year All-Star leaped and got his glove above the wall just in time to create uncertainty.

“I thought I saw it go in his glove,” Braves reliever Josh Tomlin said.

Though some fans in the left-field seats began to cheer, it was still unclear whether the catch had been made. Acuna added to the drama as he fell to the ground and remained seated for a couple seconds before rising and throwing the ball back toward the infield.

“I tried to keep everyone in suspense a little bit,” Acuna said. “I knew I caught it. I was just holding on to it a little longer before I threw it in.”

Just like Tomlin was unsure whether he’d just surrendered a home run, Davis did not know whether he had just tallied his 15th homer of the season.

"I didn't know if he caught it because he just sat there for a good 20 seconds,” Davis said. “I'm like, all right, am I going to sit here and look dumb if I keep running the bases, because he's just going to pop up and throw it in? Nobody knew what happened."

The Braves have come to expect the unexpected from Acuna, who needs five homers and 12 more stolen bases to record what would be just the fifth 40-homer, 40-stolen base season in Major League history.

“From our vantage point, you couldn’t tell if he caught it or not,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It was a little dramatic. Good for him. It’s entertainment.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.