PHOENIX – This was the type of moment that can alter a season, the one that infuses a team with momentum. Depending on how the next few weeks play out, it could be a moment remembered for the rest of the season.
With the Braves down to their last strike, Eddie Rosario cranked a go-ahead grand slam – causing pandemonium in the visiting dugout and among the Braves fans here – to win the game and series.
The Braves beat the Diamondbacks, 8-5, on Sunday at Chase Field to take two of three games here and end the road trip on a wonderful note.
1. When Eddie Rosario walked up to the plate with two outs in the ninth?
“Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!
When the top of the ninth ended?
“Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!”
When the game ended?
“Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!”
The Braves fans in Phoenix – and there were many – celebrated Rosario before, during and after his game-winning grand slam.
“I love that,” Rosario said of fans chanting his name. “I feel proud. I’m blessed too. When the people call my name – “Eddie! Eddie!” – it’s a good feeling.”
With one swing, Rosario changed the tenor of Sunday’s game and the entire road trip. Instead of going 2-4, the Braves split the six games away from home. And the slam came at a time when Atlanta has struggled to gain momentum offensively.
In the ninth, the Braves, down a run, had runners on second and third with no outs. Then, suddenly, they had two outs with the bases loaded.
They were in danger of disaster.
Then Rosario stepped up.
“He’s been locked in those whole road trip, and I had a pretty good feeling,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “You hope he hits a grand slam. It doesn’t (always) happen that way.”
2. After the ball flew over the fence, Rosario turned to his teammates as he ran to first base. He high-fived first base coach Eric Young Sr. and did a little hop as he passed first base.
Orlando Arcia jumped up and down in the dugout. AJ Smith-Shawver, who had just debuted, banged on the dugout railing. Ronald Acuña Jr. hopped around third base and did a little dance as he reached home plate.
Once again, Rosario came up big in a huge moment.
“He’s got a slow heartbeat, that’s for sure,” Snitker said. “He’s shown that. We heard that before, when we (traded for) him, from the guys that had been with him in Minnesota. It’s good to see that he’s starting to get locked in a little bit, because he could be a real force, that’s for sure.”
On the road trip, Rosario went 8-for-20.
In Phoenix, he went 6-for-13 with three homers and seven RBIs.
3. Michael Soroka lasted only 3-2/3 innings and allowed five earned runs and seven hits. He walked four batters and only struck out two.
Soroka struggled to finish innings. All five runs scored with two outs.
“That’s not quite me,” Soroka said. “What made me, me, is kind of being able to step on their necks if you will, and make sure I get that third (out).”
Snitker preached patience with Soroka, who is pitching in the majors for the first time since 2020.
Does Soroka give himself that same grace?
“Maybe as a process, but I mean, we’re back in the big leagues, now. It’s time to get outs,” he said. “If it were still time to work on things, I wouldn’t be here yet. I think it’s time to go put up more zeroes and fill up the glove a little bit better. I think that’s one thing that made me who I was, was filling up the strike zone.”
4. Smith-Shawver’s debut went as well as anyone could’ve hoped.
He tossed 2-1/3 hitless innings. He struck out three batters and walked one. He hurled 39 pitches, and 22 were strikes.
His four-seam fastball touched 97 mph. He tossed 22 fastballs, 13 sliders and four curveballs.
“You can’t really draw it up better than that,” he said.
He kept the deficit at a run, which became important.
5. In the fourth inning, Marcell Ozuna blasted a ball he believed would leave the park. It did not.
It turned out to be a 415-foot single.
Snitker pulled him and pinch-hit Sean Murphy the next time that spot came up. After the game, the manager confirmed he took Ozuna out because he didn’t run hard.
“I made a mistake,” Ozuna said. “I don’t disagree with the decision.”
Later on, Rosario made everyone forget about this moment.
Stat to know
20, 196 - At 20 years and 196 days old (as of June 4), Smith-Shawver is the youngest pitcher to appear for Atlanta since Julio Teheran, who debuted at 20 years and 111 days old.
“We backed up a pretty good offensive day with another one here. I liked how we hung around in that game. It was really good. It showed the mettle that we have, I think, and what these guys are made of.” - Snitker on the win
After Monday’s off day, Braves right-hander Bryce Elder will start Tuesday’s game against the Mets, who will send right-hander Carlos Carrasco to the mound. First pitch is at 7:20 p.m.