UPDATED: Anthony Rendon has been scratched from the lineup after getting hit on the hand in yesterday’s game. New lineup included below.
Juan Soto went 2 for 3 with a walk and a K in Friday’s series opener against the Chicago Cubs, leaving him with a .309/.428/.553 line on the season.
It wasn’t the hits that Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez was talking about after the first of three in Wrigley, however, but the back pick by Cubbies’ catcher Willson Contreras in the eighth that caught Soto off first base and short-circuited a potentially rally before it could get started.
Bryce Harper and Soto took back-to-back walks from now-former Nats’ reliever Brandon Kintzler to start the eighth, but Contreras picked Soto off, with Carl Edwards, Jr. on the mound, Mark Reynolds popped out, allowing Harper to take third base, and Daniel Murphy grounded out to end the threat.
It was the second time Soto got picked off in the game.
The first time, in the sixth, he singled to lead off the inning and Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks got him at first.
After connecting for two-out RBI hits in each of the first two innings, the Nationals came up empty the rest of the way, and ended the game 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss, which was their 19th loss in 30 one-run games this season.
“We’ve got to clean up the baserunning,” Davey Martinez said when asked about all the little things that led to another loss in a close game.
“That’s just a young mistake, and we talked to Soto, he knew that Willson is going to back pick at any time, he just felt like [Anthony] Rizzo blocked the base, and I told him, I said, ‘Hey, you’ve just got to knock him over. You’ve got to do whatever you can to get back.’ But that’s young mistakes.”
Is he troubled by the fact that Friday’s loss was similar to a lot of the losses for the Nationals this season?
“It doesn’t trouble me, it’s just we’ve got to get fundamentally better,” Martinez said.
“That’s the key. We can’t make those little mistakes, because when you play a team that’s good, that’s going to cost you, and it did today. Soto gets picked off right there, we get a fly ball, we tag up, who knows what Murphy does then, we’ve got first and third, so those are big moments. Those are the things we need to fix, and like I said, those are young mistakes, we’ve got to teach our young players and move on.”
There’s no choice but to move on, because there’s another game to play today at 4:05 PM EDT in Wrigley Field.