NEW YORK -- Minutes after the catch that broke the Mets' hearts, Ender Inciarte sat at his locker, glued to his phone.Checking messages?"No, I just want to see what people are saying about it," the Braves' center fielder said.• Inciarte broke a lot of Mets fans' hearts with amazing grabHere's what
NEW YORK -- Minutes after the catch that broke the Mets' hearts, Ender Inciarte sat at his locker, glued to his phone.
"No, I just want to see what people are saying about it," the Braves' center fielder said.
• Inciarte broke a lot of Mets fans' hearts with amazing grab
Here's what they're saying: It's one of the best catches they've seen, one of the best finishes you could have for a game in a pennant race. They're saying they thought Yoenis Céspedes had just won the game for the Mets with a dramatic home run, only to see Inciarte steal it away from him.
The Braves came away from Citi Field with a 4-3 win and a three-game sweep of the postseason-chasing Mets, but the score tells only a very small part of the story.
• In disbelief, Mets can only tip cap to Inciarte
There's so much more, beginning with this: According to Statcast™, Cespedes hit the ball with an exit velocity of 101.7 mph and a launch angle of 28 degrees. Such batted balls are a hit 84 percent of the time and a home run 72 percent of the time.
This one was neither, because Inciarte ran 104 feet with a top speed of 19.2 mph. Not only that, but his first step was minus-0.73 seconds, which means he was moving before the ball even hit Cespedes' bat.
"Probably the best catch I've ever seen," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "I still can't wrap my mind around it."
The Braves will be seeing it on their highlight films for months to come. The Mets will be seeing it in their nightmares, especially if this week's losses to the Braves end up costing them a National League Wild Card spot.
And Inciarte? He'll remember the moment when nobody in the ballpark but him knew how this game was going to end.
They'd seen Cespedes crush a Jim Johnson fastball to center field, for what looked like a three-run, walk-off homer. They'd seen Inciarte race to the fence and leap with his glove over the wall.
Inciarte came down, and he knew he had the ball in his glove. The fans didn't. His teammates didn't.
"There's that split-second you don't know," Johnson said. "But Ender's reaction said it all."
It was a great reaction to a great catch, one that brings back memories of any of the best catches you've seen.
There was the one Billy Hamilton of the Reds made on Aug. 23 against the Rangers. Hamilton ran farther (123 feet) and faster (22 mph) than Inciarte, but his catch didn't save a home run, and it didn't end the game.
Inciarte also brought back memories of a catch Braves outfielder Willie Harris made at Shea Stadium in 2007, robbing the Mets' Carlos Delgado of a would-be game-tying home run in the ninth inning.
"I didn't even watch," Braves manager Bobby Cox told reporters that day. "I thought it was out easy when he hit it."
Snitker thought the same thing on Wednesday night.
"When it left the bat, I was, 'Oh my God,'" Snitker said. "But that's as good a catch as you'll ever see."
As Inciarte came down with the ball, his teammates in the third-base dugout came leaping over the dugout fence in joy.
"It just erupted," Snitker said. "I don't think you could have had a bigger eruption if we won the World Series."
The Braves won't win the World Series, not this year. But they are a happy 61-91 team, because they're finishing a bad season with a very good and very fun month.
"We beat three good pitchers this week," Matt Kemp said. "That just shows what our offense is capable of. Let's take this to Miami and keep this ride going."
Johnson, who was gifted by Inciarte with his 17th save of the season, has been a big part of that ride. Thanks to Inciarte, the Braves' closer still hasn't blown a save since July 19 in Cincinnati, converting 15 in a row.
That July 19 game, incidentally, was on Johnson's mind Wednesday night.
"That game, I gave up three hits that were kind of bologna hits," Johnson said. "I was thinking, 'This kind of makes up for that.'"
Besides, that was a game few will remember. This was a game, and an Inciarte catch, that will live on for years.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.