Friday, May 27, 2022

Braves vs. Dodgers: Eddie Rosario continues scorching-hot NLCS, ties record with go-ahead homer in Game 6

Braves outfielder Eddie Rosario came into NLCS Game 6 (follow here) with a slash line of .571/.609/1.000 for the series with 12 hits, two of which were home runs and one of which was the walk-off hit of Game 2. That’s an honest series’ work and then some, but Rosario was far from done. 

In the first inning on Saturday night in Atlanta, he notched a line drive single off Walker Buehler but was retired on a double play off the bat of Freddie Freeman. In the fourth, though, with the score tied 1-1, Rosario left nothing to chance as he authored a methodical at-bat against Buehler that changed the trajectory of Game 6 and pushed the Braves closer to their first NL pennant since 1999.

After whiffing at a first-pitch fastball and then barely nicking a second, Rosario, down 0-2 in the count, fouled off a cutter, took a sinker that didn’t sink, and then fouled off another cutter and sinker. Then Buehler came inside with a 94-mph cutter — yet another fastball variant — and Rosario’s doggedness was rewarded: 

That was deserves another look (and another listen): 

That’s 104.9 mph off the bat, and that’s a three-run homer to give the Braves a 4-1 lead in what for them is a potential pennant clincher. Also consider the circumstances. With two outs and Travis d’Arnaud on first, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker made the difficult decision to tap into his thin bench and pinch-hit for starter Ian Anderson

To repeat, it was just the fourth inning, and two were out. Pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza rewarded the decision by popping a double into right, but because of d’Arnaud’s limited speed and Mookie Betts‘ swift retrieval of the ball no run scored. If Rosario doesn’t come through, then Snitker is already into his bullpen in a 1-1 game and he’s already burned his pinch-hitter of first resort. However, because this is Eddie Rosario and this is also the 2021 NLCS, it all worked out. 

When Rosario came to the plate in the fourth, the Braves had a 57.1 percent chance of winning Game 6. That’s a bit north of a coin-flip and none too comfortable against a team of the Dodgers‘ caliber. After he touched home plate, that figure was 83.8 percent. Different game, that. 

That blast also happened to be Rosario’s 14th hit of the series, and that ties the all-time postseason record for the most in a series: 

This is a player, let us recall, that the Braves acquired from Cleveland at the July 30 deadline in exchange for Pablo Sandoval. Oh, and Cleveland also kicked in some cash. That deal more than paid off for Atlanta when Rosario batted .271/.330/.573 in 33 games after the trade, but then came all of this. “This” would be Rosario’s full ownership of the 2021 NLCS and, by extension, Dodger pitching. “This” has also been one of the great single-series postseason performances in the annals of same. 

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