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Washington Nationals 9-6 over St. Louis Cardinals: Juan Soto hits first HR of the Spring in Jupiter

Juan Soto finished his day 2 for 3 with a 2-run HR and 3 RBIs in what ended up a 9-6 Nationals’ win over the Cards.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Soto watched an 0-2 curve drop in for a called third strike with two on and no one out in the top of the first inning this afternoon in Jupiter, FL. Howie Kendrick popped out in the next at bat, and the Washington Nationals let St. Louis Cardinals’ starter Austin Gomber off the hook when Carter Kieboom hit a one-hop liner to short allowing the Cards to get out No. 3 on a force at second base.

Probably should note that Eric Thames hit a ground-rule double to left-center on a pitch up, outside to start the first, and Kurt Suzuki walked before they were both stranded.

Aníbal Sánchez, in his 2020 Spring debut, left a 1-2 pitch up for Kolten Wong in the first at bat of the bottom of the first inning, and a ground ball and fly to center later, it was 1-0 in the Cardinals’ favor.

Sánchez worked around a leadoff single in the second, a 12-pitch frame which left him at 26 total after two.

Michael A. Taylor doubled to left on a 1-2 pitch up in the zone from Gomber in the top of the second inning, and was also, unfortunately, referred to as “Triple-A Taylor” by the Cardinals’ announce team.

Taylor moved up on a one-out sac bunt by Wilmer Difo and scored on a single to right field by Emilio Bonifacio, who took an 0-2 slider outside the other way for an RBI hit, 1-1.

Kurt Suzuki singled to center on an 0-1 fastball from Cardinals’ reliever Seth Elledge in the top of the third inning, and scored in the next at bat when Juan Soto got up 3-1 and hit an absolute bomb of an opposite field, two-run blast to left-center on a fastball from the right-hander, 3-1. Soto’s first of the Spring.

Hunter Strickland was the first pitcher out of the bullpen for the Nationals this afternoon, and the veteran righty walked the first batter he faced, Evan Mendoza, missing with a 3-2 fastball.

Kolten Wong worked the count full in the next at bat as well, but grounded out, advancing the runner to second, and after Dylan Carlson reached on an error by Jacob Wilson at first, Paul DeJong hit an 0-1 fastball out for a three-run blast to left-center field, 4-3 Cardinals.

Strickland ended up throwing 30 pitches in a long inning for the reliever.

Soto stepped in with runners on second and third and no one out vs Cards’ right-hander Alex Reyes in the top of the fourth, after Jacob Wilson walked and Kurt Suzuki (2 for 2, BB) singled, and the Nationals’ left fielder was 2 for 3 with a home run and an RBI double after he lined a 1-2 pitch up in the zone outside to left, 4-4.

Carter Kieboom took a base-loading walk with one out in the fourth, ending Reyes’s outing, and Michael A. Taylor hit a sac fly to the wall in left off Roel Ramirez, 5-4 Nationals.

Dakota Bacus worked around a hard-hit, low, one-hop liner to third base that Kieboom dove on but couldn’t corral, getting a force at second base in the AB that followed, and an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to get out of the fourth.

Jhonatan German, a non-roster invitee to camp, gave up a one-out walk to Max Schrock and a two-run blast by Yairo Muñoz in the bottom of the fifth, 6-5 Cards.

Yadiel Hernandez and Carter Kieboom singled around a walk to Raudy Read with Cardinals’ left-hander Brett Cecil on the mound in the top of the sixth inning, as the Nationals loaded the bases with no one out, and a walk by Rafael Bautista in the next at bat tied things back up at 6-6, before the Nats took a 7-6 lead when Raudy Read scored on a one-out groundout by Mac Williamson.

James Bourque worked around a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth to keep the club’s one-run lead intact. It was a 21-pitch frame for the right-hander.

Jakson Reetz and Jake Noll singled around a Yadiel Hernandez walk in the Nationals’ half of the seventh, loading the bases and ending Tommy Parsons’ day.

Johan Oviedo took over on the mound and a run scored when Andrew Stevenson grounded into a force at second, 8-6.

Kyle Finnegan walked back-to-back batters with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but he got a groundout and a strikeout from the next two Cardinals to keep it a two-run lead.

Adrián Sanchez doubled to lead off the eighth with Oviedo still on the mound, and he came in one out later on an RBI single to center by Jacob Wilson, 9-6.

Bryan Bonnell worked a scoreless bottom of the eighth for the Nationals to keep it 9-6, and Kevin Quackenbush worked a scoreless ninth to mercifully end it.