Eddie Rosario was not a playoff novice heading into the 2021 postseason. He experienced October baseball with the Twins in 2017, 2019 and 2020. But he played in just six games total as Minnesota made an early exit each year.
This October has been a lot different. He’s on a club that’s in position to win the last game of the year, and he’s a huge reason why.
Rosario struck the decisive blow in the Braves’ clinching 4-2 NLCS Game 6 victory over the Dodgers on Saturday night: a line-drive, three-run homer to right field off LA starter Walker Buehler in the fourth inning. The hit was Rosario’s franchise-record 14th in the series. He was the obvious choice for series MVP a couple of hours later after Atlanta had wrapped up the pennant and the franchise’s first World Series berth in 22 years.
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“I gave everything I had for the team, for the World Series. I just left it all out there. I’m extremely proud of myself and the team for getting to the World Series,” Rosario said through an interpreter in a postgame interview with MLB Network’s Heidi Watney.
The Dodgers elected to pitch to Rosario in that key spot rather than walk him and bring up Freddie Freeman with the bases loaded in a 1-1 game. Buehler almost made the strategy work, but he missed inside with a cutter and Rosario was all over it.
The homer was Rosario’s third in three games. He went deep twice in a Game 4 Atlanta win that put the Braves up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Power surges are nothing new for Rosario, either; he slugged 32 home runs and drove in 109 runs for the Twins in 2019. He hit 24 and 27 homers the two years before that.
He left Minnesota as a free agent after the 2020 season and signed a one-year, $8 million contract with division rival Cleveland last February. Things didn’t work out there (seven home runs, 86 OPS+ and an abdominal strain that landed him on the injured list), and by July, Cleveland was eager to move him before the trade deadline.
Enter the Braves, who were trying to retool their outfield. They traded Pablo Sandoval for the 30-year-old power-hitting left fielder on July 30. Cleveland also kicked in cash to cover part of Rosario’s salary.
Rosario finally got healthy in late August, and he went on to hit seven more homers as Atlanta surged to the NL East title. That set him up to hit another gear in October.
Now, after dethroning the reigning world champs, Rosario and the Braves will stride confidently into Houston for Game 1 of the Fall Classic on Tuesday against the AL champion Astros.
“Just grateful to the organization, my teammates. This has always been a lifelong dream of mine and I just thank God and I’m going to enjoy this moment,” Rosario told Watney.