ATLANTA – Eddie Rosario’s son Lucas walked back and forth between the front edge of the podium and where his father stood a few feet away. Lucas was wearing a blue and red jacket over a blue and red T-shirt, and he was holding a pop-it toy in one hand. He looked around in awe as tens of thousands of Braves fans chanted his father’s name.
Those fans had chanted at the start of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday night at Truist Park and then again after Rosario was named the series MVP. “ED-DIE! ED-DIE! Came the cries, while father and son listened. Rosario held the trophy in the air, shaking it above her head.
“It’s something you have to win,” he said afterwards.
Rosario had earned it by being the most dynamic player in the NLCS: one of only five players to register 14 hits in a playoff series, one of only three qualified players to hit .560 or better in a series. , one of only two to play. together several four-stroke games, and so on until the stats start to fade. In the dying moments of Atlanta’s 4-2 win in Game 6, it was obvious Rosario would be the MVP, becoming the eighth player to earn that LCS honor after a mid-season trade, joining the Astros Justin Verlander (2017 ), Indians’ Andrew Miller (’16), Giants Marco Scutaro (’12), Giants Cody Ross (’10), Yankees’ David Justice (’00), Braves’ Mike Devereaux (1995) and A’s Rickey Henderson (’89).
“We just couldn’t figure it out,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “We just didn’t have an answer for him.”
Roberts ticked off every solution the Dodgers tried, from fastballs to soft stuff, shots designed to block Rosario to ones designed to dampen his power. Rosario hit them all, finishing with three homers, a triple, a double and nine RBIs.
His final and most impactful blow came in the fourth inning of Game 6, dealing a staggering blow to the Dodgers. With two men on goals and two strikeouts, Rosario came at home plate against Walker Buehler, who stayed in the game despite left reliever Alex Vesia being warm. Roberts loved the game and trusted Buehler, whose throws still looked alive.
As if to prove it, Buehler quickly took a lead in the count, only showing Rosario the hard stuff: cutters on the fists, weights in the distance. Rosario took an away ball and committed two more. Finally, on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Buehler sent another cutter head to the inside corner of the strike zone, where Rosario dropped his hands and tore it just inside the post. fault of the right field.
When he did, Rosario didn’t run around the bases so much as he floated around, screaming and pumping his fists. Red and gold fireworks exploded over Truist Park as Rosario grabbed the rim of his helmet and glided over third base, then lowered to strike third base coach Ron’s palm. Washington. A line of Braves awaited Rosario beyond home plate, then even more into the dugout, all paying homage until Ronald Acuña Jr. finally pushed Rosario back onto the pitch for an encore. Several other Braves pointed emphatically at Rosario as he threw his fist at the crowd.
“This is obviously my biggest achievement of my career so far,” said Rosario.
In retrospect, as first baseman Freddie Freeman said, Rosario ended up being a perfect fit for Atlanta. And yet his performance was far beyond what was imagined when the team acquired him in a July 30 pay cut from Cleveland, who received Pablo Sandoval in return and then released him. a few hours later.
“If we had been right,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said of the deal, “we would have signed [Rosario] in the off-season.
Instead, seeking depth of the outfield at the trade deadline, Anthopoulos gained so much that even after Rosario returned from the injured list at the end of August, he still had to fight to play with the others. additions Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall and Jorge Soler. Once Rosario got a full-time job in mid-September, few noticed the clues that he began to imply that something big could be happening: a .591 stroke percentage and five homers in the game. in his last 19 regular season games.
Freeman joked that “we just had little guns waiting backstage everywhere and then we dropped them.” But he also didn’t know what kind of impact Rosario would bring. Maybe manager Brian Snitker had some common sense, making Rosario his first hitter after Soler tested positive for COVID-19 on Game Day 4 of the NL Division Series. Immediately, Rosario rewarded Snitker’s faith when he scored a single, stole a goal and scored in his first batting game of the NLCS game opener.
The real theatricality came later – a four-hit effort in Game 2 and a multihomer play-off in Game 4. Rosario’s three-point shot in the clincher was his 14th hit of the series, tying Marco Scutaro ( NLCS 2012), Kevin Youkilis (2007 ALCS), Hideki Matsui (2004 ALCS) and Albert Pujols (2004 NLCS) for most in a playoff series. Of these five players, only Rosario achieved the feat in less than seven games.
This is how Rosario, 30, found himself on a hastily constructed podium in Truist Park, holding the MVP trophy high as his son rushed past him. He’s now part of playoff history, given the overblown nature of his stats. And the seven-year veteran is part of his country’s history, as one of nine players of Puerto Rican descent to win the playoff MVP title. And he is of course part of the history of the Braves.
“But I want more – I want to win the World Series,” said Rosario, proud and happy to have given himself the chance.