Braves center fielder Inciarte’s ‘deke’ play one to savor

If Ender Inciarte makes the “deke” play that he made Tuesday night in a postseason game, or even in a big regular-season win, the Braves center fielder would be celebrated across the baseball landscape.

But Inciarte made it in a 3-2 loss to the Phillies, the 11th in a row for the Braves, their 16th home loss in 17 games, and their 24th defeat in 31 games overall. And so, it’ll probably be overshadowed and perhaps quickly forgotten by most outside of Braves Country.

None of that make it any less sensational.

The setup: Philly’s Carlos Ruiz on first base after a one-out walk in the sixth inning, the Braves trailing 2-1.

The deke: Freddy Galvis hits a pop fly to fairly shallow right-center field, and Inciarte races over toward the gap and suddenly holds his arms out to his sides as he’s running, looking as if he’s lost the ball in the notoriously bad Turner Field lights. Right fielder Nick Markakis is approaching but unsure what to do since Inciarte is still running fast in the direction of the ball.

The payoff: Inciarte had the ball tracked all along, and as the ball comes down he suddenly reaches up, catches it and, in one smooth motion, fires a strong one-hop throw to first baseman Freddie Freeman, beating the surprised Ruiz back to the base for an inning-ending double play. Ruiz had ranged too far off the base, fooled by Inciarte’s “lost-the-ball-in-the-lights” decoy.

The reactions:

Freeman: "I kind of knew he was going to catch that, but I'm surprised that Carlos didn't think he was going to do that. But it was impressive to throw a strike after doing all that. It's the second unbelievable play he's made so far in six games he's played this year. It's nice to have him on our side….

“He definitely fooled a few people, I’m sure. It’s a great play. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t capitalize on it. It’s the second unbelievable play he’s made so far in six games he’s played this year. It’s nice to have him on our side.”

Markakis: "He almost got me there for a second; I didn't know what to do. At the very last second I kind of caught on. That was a great play. You don't see it very often and he did it pretty well. He had a lot of people fooled including the base runner. Good play.

“Right before he caught that ball he yelled at me, pointing to the sky to make sure I got over there if he had a high pop-up. And right away… I don’t know if I’ve seen that play work, and it ended up working and turned out good for us.”

Braves left fielder Jeff Francoeur: "That was awesome. He actually got me. I was yelling at Nick. I didn't know where he was going. If I ever play against him I'll have to remember that one…. I thought he was right under the ball, then he was looking like he didn't know where it was. And then, of course, he gets him. It was a great play."

Braves pitcher Matt Wisler: "The defense made some great plays. That play Ender made was pretty unbelievable. I've never seen anything like that."

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: "I've got to hand it to Inciarte. He pretended he didn't see it and (Ruiz) got closer and closer to second."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez: "He's a special player, special outfielder. (Ruiz is a) veteran runner, too. It wasn't just a young whippersnapper who's going to run the bases with his head down. And (Inciarte) made an accurate, strong throw to first base to double him up. That's a special defender."