NEW YORK – The Braves were two outs away from a sweep. Two outs away from a happy flight back to Atlanta after dominating their rivals.

With one swing, the mood turned somber – even if the Braves had still won two of three.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Brandon Nimmo launched a two-run, walk-off home run off A.J. Minter as the Braves lost to New York, 4-3. This was the Braves’ third walk-off loss of the season.

And in the process of all this, the Braves began dealing with an Austin Riley injury scare.

Five observations:

1. In a quiet visiting clubhouse, Minter sat in a chair and fielded questions. He said he did not see where his pitch – a 90-mph cutter – went in the strike zone, but he lamented having to watch another ball sail out of the ballpark.

“I take pride in making hitters earn it,” Minter said. “I’m never gonna be scared of a hitter, I’m never gonna be scared to throw a strike. In that situation, I’m not gonna put the winning run on base. I’m gonna attack them. Yeah, I mean, if you take away all the home runs I’ve given up, I’m the best pitcher in baseball. That’s what’s been killing me this year is just getting the ball to stay in the yard. I don’t know how to fix that, I don’t know if it’s just gonna all even out, but yeah, I mean, I just wish I could tell you.

“You can always make a better pitch, but I’m not a pitcher where I’m gonna work the edges. I’m gonna attack hitters and rely on my stuff. And if I get beat at the end of the day, I get beat. That’s what happened again, unfortunately.”

Minter’s cutter leaked over the middle of the plate. The left-handed hitting Nimmo sent it over the center-field wall, despite Michael Harris II’s best attempt to bring it back.

The Braves had lost. Minter, pitching because closer Raisel Iglesias was unavailable after throwing the last two days, had given up another walk-off homer. On April 29 in Seattle, he served up a two-run shot.

The crazy part: Minter, who still has a 3.78 ERA, has allowed seven earned runs this season – and they’ve all come on five different homers.

“My turning my point in my career, it’s been my mentality of not walking guys, and I’m gonna die on that hill,” Minter said. “If I’m not giving up free runners and I’m gonna make them earn it, and I think I have the nastiest stuff in baseball and they’re gonna have to earn it. That’s what they’ve been doing off of me.”

Minter has pitched in the ninth inning or later six times this season. In two such outings, he’s allowed walk-off homers.

2. In the third inning, Riley swung through strike three and did a little hop while seemingly reaching for his left side. He played the bottom of the third, but didn’t take another at-bat and didn’t go out to third base for the bottom of the fourth.

The Braves removed him as a precaution.

“It kind of just grabbed at me, more than anything,” Riley said after the game. “I think it was just more precaution, hopefully more than anything. Get in (Monday), see how I feel and hopefully this thing’s day by day.”

Riley felt some left side tightness during batting practice ahead of the game. But he didn’t tell the Braves about it – which he said could be taken as an encouraging sign, because it meant he wasn’t too concerned about it. He said it’s normal to experience these things throughout a 162-game season.

Riley will see how he feels when he wakes up on Monday and go from there. He doesn’t know if he’ll need an MRI – which could be another positive sign, as it seemed like the Braves hadn’t definitively scheduled imaging for him.

“I’m hoping he plays (Monday),” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.” I don’t know if he will. Once we get back and they see him and test him and all that kind of stuff, then we’ll know (Monday).”

3. On April 26, the Mets designated Zack Short for assignment. They soon traded him to Boston, which activated him on May 2 before designating him for assignment on May 8. The whirlwind time led him to Atlanta, which activated him on May 10 and fielded him on May 12.

Got all that?

Yeah, it was crazy.

When the Braves removed Riley as a precaution because of left side tightness, they put Short at third base. And he made the opportunity count by burning one of his former teams – and the club for which he used to root.

Short drew leadoff walks in his first two plate appearances for the Braves, including one in the eighth inning. After that walk, he stole second base and became the go-ahead run – at the time – when Marcell Ozuna singled off Adam Ottavino.

“You truly never know what’s gonna happen. I kind of saw it happen on (Riley’s) last swing, and as soon as that happens, obviously, you hope that he’s okay, but you kind of go into it like, ‘Hey, I gotta get ready’ mode. It’s a grind every day because you don’t know when that opportunity is gonna come, and you have to be ready – not only for yourself, but for your teammates as well. And if you’re not, you’re doing yourself a disservice and you’re doing the rest of the team a disservice, too. You’re preparing every day like you’re gonna play.”

4. Speaking of Ozuna: By driving in Short, he collected his MLB-leading 40th RBI of the season. That’s six more than anyone else in baseball.

Ozuna’s 40 RBI are the third most by any Brave through his first 37 games of a season. Hank Aaron leads the franchise in this category: In 1959 and 1970, he drove in 44 and 41 runs, respectively, through his first 37 games of those seasons.

5. Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Bryce Elder combined to allow only three earned runs in 19 1/3 innings over the three games. Morton threw seven innings of one-run baseball, Fried hurled seven hitless innings and Elder surrendered two runs over 5 1/3 frames.

The rotation has been terrific.

“I mean, I think that’s kind of the expectation,” Elder said. “Obviously, it’s not always gonna happen that way, but we want to give the guys a chance to get it done at the plate and leave the bullpen in a situation where we can get it done. As starters, that’s kind of what we’re trying to do week in, week out.”

The Braves did not score more than four runs in any of the three games. But because of their pitching, they were two outs away from sweeping.

Stat to know

6-7 - The Braves are 6-7 in one-run games this season.


“Just one of those games where the ball didn’t fall our way. To take two out of three, I don’t think you can complain a whole lot there.”

Up next

Monday should be fun: Reynaldo López (1.53 ERA) will face Cubs left-hander Shota Imanaga, who enters the matchup 5-0 with a 1.08 ERA. First pitch is at 7:20 p.m.