Juan Soto went 0 for 4 with two Ks in Tuesday’s series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies, leaving him 0 for 10 with seven Ks going into the second of two with Washington’s NL East rivals on Wednesday afternoon.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talked after the 8-2 loss to the Phillies in the first of two about getting the 20-year-old slugger back on track.
“We’ve got to get him back,” Martinez told reporters. “The biggest thing with him is he’s got to go back to taking his walks, and swinging at strikes.”
The first time up against Aaron Nola on Wednesday, Soto fell behind 0-2 quickly, taking a fastball for a strike and swinging over a low changeup that was out of the zone. Soto got enough of a fastball outside to stay in the at bat, fouling it off, then spit on a change low, outside the zone, on Nola’s fifth offering, before taking a fastball high and outside and a curve low and in to get to a full count. He sent another change, low and in into right field with a defensive swing to end the battle with a double, his second of the season.
He fouled off a fastball and change in his next at bat in the third, then crushed an 0-2 pitch that Nola left up in the zone, sending a three-run home run out to left-center field.
Soto spit on two 1-2 sliders from Edubray Ramos in his third trip to the plate, before lining a slider up in the zone the other way for a single (3 for 3, 2B, HR).
He grounded out on an 1-2 splitter from Hector Neris in the seventh, then took the first of the three ninth-inning walks David Robertson gave up in the ninth as the Nationals loaded the bases and forced in the winning run on a walk-off walk by Jake Noll.
Soto’s 3 for 4 game with a walk and two runs scored was more what Martinez was looking for from the outfielder.
“I talked to him today, yeah,” Martinez said after the Nationals’ 9-8 win over the Phillies, “... and like I said, it’s all — for him just takes his walks and swing at strikes, and he did a great job today. He battled some pitches off, his two-strike approach was a lot better, he got the ball up, which we talk about with two strikes, and he did really well.”
Heading into today’s series opener in Citi Field (where Soto was 14 for 42, .308/.379/.308, with six doubles and two home runs in seven games as a rookie), the Nationals’ left fielder has a .300/.364/.550 line, two doubles, a home run, two walks, and nine Ks in five games this season.