DENVER -- Approximately three hours later, as he digested Monday night's 3-0 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field, Braves third base coach Ron Washington was still wondering if the result would have been different had he not waved Ender Inciarte toward the plate with the hope of beginning the
DENVER -- Approximately three hours later, as he digested Monday night's 3-0 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field, Braves third base coach Ron Washington was still wondering if the result would have been different had he not waved Ender Inciarte toward the plate with the hope of beginning the game in electrifying fashion.
"I thought it was an inside-the-park [home run]," Washington said. "I had no doubt about it."
Instead, it became a play that led the Braves to wonder what might have been as they lost their 11th straight game at Coors Field and suffered their seventh shutout loss of the season. Their inability to take advantage of a prime early-scoring opportunity set the tone for Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis, who completed seven scoreless innings in his first game back since being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
"They made two perfect throws, and that's what it takes," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the squandered first-inning opportunity.
Inciarte opened the game by lacing an opposite-field liner under the glove of a diving Gerardo Parra, his former D-backs teammate whom he first met when he was 12 years old in their native Venezuela. Parra picked himself off the ground and began sprinting toward the ball as it nestled in the left-field corner.
"When [Parra] got to the ball, [Inciarte] was just getting to third base," Washington said. "I knew it was going to take two throws, but I figured with [Inciarte's] speed. But then he rounded third base, and the car ran out of gas."
Later in the game, Washington thought about how Denver's high altitude can adversely affect a player's stamina. But there certainly wasn't a noticeable change in speed. Per Statcast™, Inciarte got around the bases in 15.13 seconds. This stands as the second-fastest time of any similar play completed this year, trailing just the 15.07 seconds it took Kansas City's Lorenzo Cain to round the bases as he completed a Little League home run on May 8 against the Rays.
"I went as hard as I could," Inciarte said. "It took two perfect throws to get me out, and they made it. There was nothing else I could have done different. I think if that play happens again, he's probably going to send me again, and I probably want to go home again."
After the strong-armed Parra grabbed the ball near the left-field wall, he threw to shortstop Trevor Story, who had to reach down to secure the ball before firing a perfect strike to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who applied the tag as Inciarte was sliding toward the plate.
Instead of having a man on third base with no outs and the heart of their order coming to bat against Bettis, the Braves were left with nothing to show for what had the makings to be a big start.
"With nobody out, I had that in the back of my mind, too," Washington said. "But I was just judging where he was when he finally made it to the wall to get the ball. It wasn't like he had already picked up the ball and was already making his throw. [Parra's] back was still to me when [Inciarte] got to third base. He ran out of gas."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.