Eddie Rosario Powers Atlanta Braves To World Series
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Eddie Rosario clobbered a go-ahead three-run homer off Walker Buehler with two outs in the fourth inning and a trio of relievers -- A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith -- combined to toss five perfect innings, leading the Braves to a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS on a picturesque Saturday evening at Truist Park in Atlanta. With the victory, the Braves advance to the World Series for the first time since 1999. They’ll face off against the American League champion Astros when the best-of-seven series kicks off on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Rosario, who was acquired from Cleveland in an unheralded deal at the trade deadline in late July, served as the Braves’ main offensive catalyst in the back-and-forth series. He wound up putting them ahead for good with his third round-tripper of the series in the fourth inning of the elimination contest. The 30-year-old outfielder, who was named NLCS MVP at the conclusion of the contest, finished with a whopping 14 hits across six games, tying a major-league record for the most in a single playoff series ever.
It was third baseman Austin Riley who kicked off the scoring with an RBI double to left field off Dodgers hard-throwing starter Buehler with two outs in the opening frame. The 27-year-old righty, pitching on just three days, delivered a herculean effort in a massive spot and nearly managed to get through four innings with just that lone early run crossing the plate. Yet, he wound up hanging a two-strike cutter to Rosario, who responded by lining a go-ahead shot into the right-field seats. Buehler finished with six strikeouts, issuing three walks and departed after throwing 77 pitches (52 strikes) in the abbreviated outing. [[ad:athena]]
Braves’ starter Ian Anderson retired six consecutive batters to open the contest and consistently generated whiffs with his changeup. He worked around a leadoff double from A.J. Pollock in the third inning, but was unable to keep the Dodgers off the scoreboard in the ensuing frame when Cody Bellinger slapped a game-tying RBI single into shallow left-center field with two outs in the ensuing frame. The 23-year-old righty was lifted for pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza, who delivered a double down the right-field line with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, setting the stage for Rosario’s go-ahead blast just a few pitches later.
The Braves’ bullpen took over from there as lefty A.J. Minter tossed a pair of scoreless frames, but Luke Jackson failed to record an out in the seventh inning and nearly allowed the Dodgers to get back into the game. He gave up a leadoff double to Chris Taylor, issued a walk to Cody Bellinger and surrendered an RBI double to AJ Pollock before being pulled from the contest. Fortunately lefty Tyler Matzek came on to strike out Albert Pujols, Steven Souza and Mookie Betts, stranding the tying runs in scoring position in electrifying fashion. He came back out and tossed a perfect eighth inning before handing the ball to closer Will Smith, who slammed the door with a flawless final frame.
MLB Quick Hits: Rafael Devers revealed late Friday that he played through right elbow inflammation during the postseason … Rio Ruiz, Deven Marrero and Andrew Bellatti have elected free agency … Orioles sent Pat Valaika, Austin Wynns, Thomas Eshelman and Konner Wade outright to Triple-A Norfolk.