Juan Soto went 0 for 3 with three Ks against Atlanta Braves’ left-hander Max Fried last night, though he was hardly the only Washington Nationals’ hitter to struggle against Fried, whose outing ended after he’d retired 19-straight following a two-out single in the top of the first.
Soto singled off reliever Mark Melancon with two out in the ninth, however, avoiding an 0 for 4 and keeping the inning alive as the Nats tried to rally in what ended up a 4-2 loss.
“I’ll talk to him tomorrow and say, ‘That guy was good. You’ve got to just battle,’” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters after the game, when he was asked about Soto’s rough night against Fried.
“But you see what happens,” Martinez added, “that last inning he gets up there and regroups himself and he gets a big hit for us.”
The only runs the Nationals scored in the first of four with the Braves in SunTrust Park came on a ninth-inning home run by Victor Robles, who took Melancon deep on an 0-1 cutter.
It was Robles’s 17th of the season, and the seventh in the seventh inning or later. Martinez talked after the game about what allows the 20-year-old outfielder to come through in big at bats, and especially late-game plate appearances.
“He’s clutch,” the Nats’ skipper said.
“He gets it. He understands the game. Right there he’s not trying to do much but get a good swing on a baseball. He understands the game. I loved our at bats that last inning.
“They all knew what to do, they all took a strike, they wanted Melancon to throw strikes, and they worked good at bats.”
How will the Nationals fare against another left-hander, Dallas Keuchel, tonight?