Rosario leads way with another 4-hit parade

Cleveland shortstop's 37th multihit game sparks victory in 2021 home finale

September 27th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- When rounded the bases after his third-inning homer -- his second hit of the day -- the entire dugout was screaming “three.”

Rosario’s teammates have come to learn that if he has two hits under his belt in a game, he’ll likely pick up a third. And they weren’t wrong. For the sixth time this season, Rosario turned in a four-hit game in Monday afternoon’s 8-3 win over the Royals in the Tribe’s final game of 2021 at Progressive Field. His six contests with at least four hits are the most in the Majors, ahead of Fernando Tatís Jr. and Starling Marte, both of whom entered the day with five.

“I don’t know how to explain that,” Rosario said through team interpreter Agustin Rivero. “I feel like I just play the game. I take every AB for what they are. If I have a good AB, I come positive for the next one. If I don’t have a good AB, the next one, I go up with the same positive attitude.”

Rosario has been everything and more than the Indians could’ve asked for, and the shortstop is showing no signs of slowing down in the final week of the regular season. His six games with at least four hits is tied for the fourth most in a season in club history (Earl Averill had the most with eight) and Rosario’s 37 multihit games are tied with José Ramírez for the most by an Indians hitter this season.

“He's been fantastic,” starting pitcher Cal Quantrill said of Rosario. “He's bouncy, he brings energy every time he plays. It's pretty incredible. Seems like we were joking today, he goes 2-for-2, it's almost automatic he's going to go 3-for-3. He's been a joy to have at short. The energy level and the consistency with which he plays the game is very important to us pitchers and it's admirable.”

When Rosario and Andrés Giménez were acquired as part of the package in the trade that sent Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets, most of the spotlight fell on Giménez, who was centerpiece of the deal for Cleveland. And after Giménez won the Opening Day job at shortstop, Rosario continued to take a back seat to the younger infielder and was forced to begin the year in center field. But when Rosario was moved to his natural position, he immediately became an invaluable piece to the Indians’ lineup.

“I really think he just got comfortable,” acting manager DeMarlo Hale said. “We asked him to do a few things earlier in the year that I think he accepted, and he went out there, he played in center field, because I think that shows what kind of teammate he is.”

Rosario hit just .179 with a .555 OPS in April while working through his transition to the outfield. But after he moved to shortstop and settled in as the team’s No. 2 hitter in the lineup, his numbers skyrocketed in May, hitting .307 with an .808 OPS, and he’s batting .309 with runners in scoring position. He’s had his highs and lows throughout the year, but Rosario’s ruts never lasted very long. And after a year in which Ramírez was the only source of consistency for the offense, it was a welcomed sight to have two contributors toward the top of the lineup.

“[Manager Terry Francona] had a very good sense of, ‘OK, he’s gonna be there, leave him [in the second spot] and see what happens,’” Hale said. “and I think it’s evidence [with] the year he’s having he’s gotten very comfortable.”

The more Rosario hits, the more obvious it becomes that he belongs in the Guardians' 2022 lineup, but the question remains whether he’ll be able to remain at shortstop. Cleveland has Giménez and prospects Gabriel Arias and Tyler Freeman as top options to eventually take the position, considering Rosario had -7 Defensive Runs Saved this season -- the fourth lowest among shortstops in the Majors.

But Rosario’s bat came alive when he was moved to his natural position. Will that be something the soon-to-be Guardians want to risk messing with? These will be the questions the front office has to answer over the offseason in order to figure out a way to keep his bat in the lineup.