Sean Murphy Hits Game-Tying Homerun in Eddie Rosario’s Return to Braves

PHOENIX — Eddie Rosario reunited with some of his closest friends and immediately found himself working on a laughing muscle again, just like he did during the 2021 playoffs.

“I’m so happy to be here to see my teammates and friends,” Rosario said. “I feel great. I play to win. I never get down. Like today. One more pitch and the game is probably over. I got a single and Murphy is doing great.”

Rosario’s two-out single in the ninth inning Monday gave Sean Murphy a chance to hit a game-tying two-run homer off a struggling Paul Sewald. That game-extending hit led the Braves to a 5-4, 11-inning win thanks to Marcell Ozuna’s game-winning sacrifice fly.

“We were kind of lying there dead in the weeds,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

“Hopefully that will lead to more momentum going forward,” Murphy said. “I think we all feel really good about it.”

Bryce Elder pitched effectively through the first five innings. Austin Riley hit his ninth home run in the last 23 games. Matt Olson made a game-saving defensive play. Raisel Iglesias threw two scoreless innings and recorded six outs in a game for the first time since 2021. Murphy delivered the crushing blow against Sewald, who has now blown three consecutive save chances.

And for the first time since April 17, the Braves won a game in which they allowed four or more runs. They had lost 28 games in a row in which they allowed at least four runs.

It all happened while Rosario was enjoying his first day back with the team that had employed him for the past 2 1/2 years. It seemed only a matter of time before he returned to the Braves after being cut by the Nationals last week. He signed a minor league deal on Friday, spent the weekend at Triple-A Gwinnett and returned to the Atlanta roster to play a key role in a big win.

“That’s a big thing on his first day to come out and hit a big hit to bring the tying run to the plate,” Snitker said. “That’s a good start for him.”

Rosario has been serenaded by Braves fans with chants of “Eddie” in recent years. But his time back with Atlanta won’t last long if he struggles as he did when he hit .183 with a .555 OPS over 235 plate appearances for the Nationals. He’ll be auditioning over the next few weeks, giving Atlanta a better chance to get a feel for where its outfield needs lie ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

Rosario didn’t sign with the Nationals until March 6, so missing a few weeks of Spring Training may have affected his struggles. But he also may have missed the presence of Marcell Ozuna, Ozzie Albies, Orlando Arcia and his Braves teammates who pushed him during previous seasons.

“Being a part of this organization is a privilege,” Rosario said. “So I’m very grateful for this opportunity that I’ve been given. You’re looking at a Brave.”

Rosario further endeared himself to Braves fans when he rose above the strike zone to hit a 1-2 fastball to right field with two outs in the ninth inning Monday. Murphy followed by hitting a Statcast-projected 431-foot home run over the right-center field wall.

“Eddie can hit almost any pitch and he knows it,” Murphy said. “He’s not afraid to go out there and hit it. He’s dangerous no matter where you throw him.”

There’s nothing conventional about Rosario’s offensive or defensive approach. He’s ranked as one of the least productive players in the game this year. But it certainly allows the Braves to give him another shot.

The Guardians were willing to trade Rosario to shave about $2.8 million off their 2021 payroll. The outfielder became an Atlanta icon a few months later. There’s no guarantee he’ll create the same magic this year. But there’s also no guarantee he won’t.

“My friends and brothers are here,” Rosario said.

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