BALTIMORE, MD: Juan Soto lined an 0-1 changeup from Dylan Bundy to right for his first hit of the night on Tuesday, sent a first-pitch fastball to center the second time up against the Orioles right-hander, and hit a first-pitch fastball to right in the sixth for his third hit in three at bats, so, not surprisingly, Baltimore’s manager, Buck Showalter, decided to walk Washington’s 19-year-old outfielder with a runner in scoring position at second and first base open in the eighth.
That was Soto’s first intentional walk in the majors. He also had his first three hit game. And his first outfield assist. And he stole his first base.
The stolen base came in the fourth inning, after his second single, when he took third base with one out and Pedro Severino at the plate.
It was another big night of firsts for the Nationals’ rookie outfielder, who is now 11 for 28 (.393/.485/.607) with three doubles, a homer, five walks, and five strikeouts over his first nine games in the majors.
“He’s keeping his head down and playing ball,” Bryce Harper, who debuted in the majors as a 19-year-old in 2012, told reporters after the Nationals’ 3-2 win over the Orioles last night.
Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said at this point, nothing Soto does surprises him, except the fact that he’s doing it all as a 19-year-old.
“What surprises me most is that you look at him and he doesn’t act like a 19-year-old. He really doesn’t,” Martinez said.
“He does things really, really well. Like today, he stole third base and we asked him, ‘What made you go?’ And he says, ‘I was sitting there and I was timing, timing him, timing him, and he did the same thing over and over again, and I decided, hey, you know what, I can do this.’ And he ran. So what 19-year-old guy does that and just applies it and goes with it?”
As for Soto’s big night of firsts?
“All I can say is he’s done well,” Martinez said, “and he’s going to get a chance to play every day. He’s proved that he can do it and we love having him.”
Soto’s back in there for the finale with the Orioles, leading off in the series finale...