Before “The Shot” in the 1989 NBA playoffs, Bulls coach Doug Collins said to his team of Michael Jordan: “Get the ball to Michael and get out of the way.” If there’s any early season baseball equivalent, it might be what the Braves experienced Wednesday with Ronald Acuna.

In a game primed to become another excruciating loss, Acuna smashed the first pitch he saw in the ninth inning into the cloudy Atlanta night for his first walk-off homer. The Braves defeated the rival Mets, 5-4, and avoided getting swept at home.

Here are five takeaways from Wednesday:

1. Acuna’s homer off Jacob Barnes was as timely as it gets. The Braves had blown a 3-1 lead, then rallied to tie it at four in the eighth. The Braves were previously 0-8 in games tied after eight innings.

“Every time one of those situations comes up, I tell everybody it’s over,” Acuna said via team interpreter Franco Garcia. “I’m going to end it right here. Whether it happens or doesn’t happen, I say it regardless. Thankfully tonight it worked out. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was out, so I looked at everybody and said, ‘It’s over. It’s over.”

Each game matters in the uber-tight National League East. If the Braves lost Wednesday, they would’ve been five games behind the Mets. Instead, it’s only three. Acuna provided an important swing, literally and figuratively.

“I said to myself, ‘Man, he’s due right here,’” manager Brian Snitker said. “I hadn’t seen him hit a homer (for a while) and boom.”

2. It was Acuna’s 13th homer, breaking a tie for the NL lead with teammate Freddie Freeman. Acuna is one homer behind the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani for the MLB lead.

“I’m still super excited,” Acuna said. “It was an awesome feeling and everything. My mentality is that I’m going to end the game. When it’s my turn up there, I’m doing it. Even if it doesn’t work out, I have the utmost confidence that (Freddie) Freeman, (Marcell) Ozuna and the rest of the lineup is going to take care of business. I have all the confidence in us. But I’m really excited it happened the way it did.”

3. The seventh inning was messy. Braves reliever A.J. Minter, who retired the first two hitters without issue, fielded a grounder from Dominic Smith and delivered an inaccurate throw to first base that put Smith on second. After a walk, Jose Peraza doubled. Luke Jackson replaced Minter. Tomas Nido singled home the tying and go-ahead runs.

In the ninth, Will Smith’s wild pitch on a strikeout allowed Cameron Maybin to reach. He stole second and advanced again on another wild pitch. Smith retired the next two to keep the game tied, setting up Acuna’s heroics.

“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot throughout that game,” Snitker said. “It was nice to come away with a win.”

May 19, 2021 Atlanta - Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Charlie Morton (50) throws against New York Mets in the first inning at Truist Park on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (Hyosub Shin /


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4. Charlie Morton pitched six innings, allowing one run – a Jonathan Villar homer – on two hits. He was lifted at 79 pitches so Pablo Sandoval could pinch-hit with the bases loaded in the sixth, a decision Snitker called “taking a kill shot.” Sandoval lined out to end the inning.

Morton had an ERA over 5.00 entering Wednesday, though he was better than his surface numbers. He retired the last nine Mets he faced.

“(These games are) where the season is won or lost,” Morton said. “It’s not in the games where you lose by five runs or win by nine. It’s lost in those moments where there’s an exchange of the lead, the game is tight and the team is tested. Those are the wins that facilitate (team-wide confidence).”

5. Morton helped his own cause with an RBI single in the Braves’ three-run fifth. It was Morton’s first RBI since 2015 and the seventh of his career.

Stat to know

3 (Ronald Acuna earned his third walk-off hit. It was his first walk-off homer.)


“If there was ever a timely win, this was probably it.” – Snitker

Up next

The Braves open a four-game series Thursday with the rebuilding Pirates. Left-hander Drew Smyly (2-2, 5.23) will start the opener against Wil Crowe (0-2, 4.35).