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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

How Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario ignited Braves

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HOUSTON — After Tuesday’s Game 1 win over the Astros in the World Series, Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud said Jorge Soler’s leadoff homer in the top of the first was “incredible.”

But the ex-Met also pointed out Soler’s arrival at the trade deadline — along with the additions of fellow outfielders Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall — “lit a fire under us.”

And it’s taken them to the brink of a championship.

All three had an impact on the opening victory, as Soler — who served as the DH — hit the leadoff homer, Rosario had two more hits and threw out Yuli Gurriel at second from center to end the eighth inning, and Duvall hit a two-run homer.

Each player was acquired shortly before the July 30 trade deadline by Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos. The GM also picked up Joc Pederson in a trade two weeks earlier, and Pederson also had a hit Tuesday night.

The roster makeover following the loss of star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. to a torn ACL had the desired effect, as Atlanta went from three games under .500 on the day of the deadline — and five games back of the Mets for first place in the NL East — to its fourth straight division title and first appearance in the World Series in two decades.

Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall
Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall
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“Those moves just showed everybody in that clubhouse that [Anthopoulus] still believes in us,” said d’Arnaud, the former Met. “Even when we were four games under .500, he didn’t care. He showed us, and he showed the world that he still believed in us. And I think it lit a fire under us.”

Rosario came from Cleveland, where he’d been sidelined with an abdominal strain that kept him out until late August. Soler was traded from the Royals, while Duvall, already a former Brave, came over from Miami.

“I think the rumors floating around were they didn’t want to trade within the division,’’ Duvall said of the Marlins. “That’s normal for baseball. But, yeah, I was sitting on the couch about 12:30 in the afternoon on the last day of the trade deadline and got the call. … It took me by surprise. At that point, I wasn’t really expecting anything. I was getting ready to go into the field and play the game that day.”

Instead, he became a part of an unlikely playoff run that few saw coming once Acuna went down.

Braves' Eddie Rosario was named the NLCS MVP after Atlanta's clinching Game 6 victory over the Dodgers.
Braves’ Eddie Rosario was named the NLCS MVP after Atlanta’s clinching Game 6 victory over the Dodgers.
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“I think, when you come into a new team, obviously, you want to produce, but you just want to be the player that you are,’’ Duvall said. “You don’t want to try and do too much. To replace a guy like that, you’re not really going to do it.”

Soler added through an interpreter: “It was obviously the trades for the four of us, and I think we’ve all done a good job. I think for me it was a little bit challenging, especially when I got traded right away, just because of the language barrier. I couldn’t speak English very well. So I just assumed that I was going to have a hard time making those connections with some of the English-speaking players. But after a weekend, that wasn’t the case. … I felt like there was a really good chemistry within the clubhouse itself, and I feel like now our sole purpose is to go out there and win games.”

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