Braves' back-to-back homers a first since '02

October 21st, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- In a sense, Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall were already accustomed to going back to back.

It’s a bit of wordplay; back on July 30, the Braves acquired Rosario and Duvall within minutes of each other, placing them among the central pieces of a Trade Deadline makeover that revamped Atlanta’s outfield.

Not three months later, Rosario and Duvall continued demonstrating the wisdom of those moves in going back to back in a more traditional sense. Their consecutive home runs in the second inning Wednesday gave the Braves a lead they would never relinquish in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, allowing them to win a 9-2 game and take a 3-1 series lead over the Dodgers.

One more victory will send the Braves to the World Series, advancing a journey that sharply changed direction in late July.

“The additions were huge for us and our club,” manager Brian Snitker said, “lengthening our lineup and making it really good.”

The evidence was plain to see in Game 4, when Rosario and Duvall became the third pair of Atlanta sluggers to hit back-to-back homers in a postseason game, joining Brian Jordan and Ryan Klesko in Game 4 of the 1999 NLCS against the Mets, and Javy Lopez and Vinny Castilla in Game 2 of the 2002 NL Division Series against the Giants.

Rosario led off the second inning with a 377-foot homer to left off Julio Urías, before Duvall followed with a 410-foot shot to left-center. It was the third career playoff homer for both, and the first for each this postseason. Rosario went on to add another home run in the ninth to complete his second four-hit effort of the week.

“We had a plan going into the game,” Urías said through an interpreter. “Obviously, they made their adjustments. They hit the ball when I made those pitches. That Rosario home run in particular, I didn’t think it was going to go out of the stadium, and when it did, it was just one of those things that happened. It was their day.”

It was their day because the Braves had a roster capable of making it so. They didn’t always. As first baseman Freddie Freeman recalled the situation, “things were just kind of going haywire” for a club ravaged by injury as the Trade Deadline approached. The team needed help.

And so general manager Alex Anthopoulos -- sensing an opportunity in the NL East despite the absences of Ronald Acuña Jr. and Marcell Ozuna, and despite the Mets’ long hold over first place -- decided to place his midseason bets. He acquired Joc Pederson. Then, in a quick staccato of transactions, he acquired Rosario, Duvall and Jorge Soler to complete Atlanta’s outfield makeover.

“We were treading water, and that’s all we needed to do until Alex went out and got us a whole new outfield,” Freeman said. “He really did. And this team has been completely different for the last two, two and a half months.”

Consider Game 4 the latest evidence. And if the Braves manage to advance to their first World Series this century, they will have their Trade Deadline strategy to thank.

“Every one of those guys came in and assimilated into our clubhouse and our team just effortlessly,” Snitker said. “Unbelievable how they bought into everything we were doing, the personalities and all that -- it was awesome. Credit to all those players.”