Coming off a fairly ridiculous 11 for 15, four-double series against the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park, Trea Turner started the night in Citizens Bank Park with a 15-game hit streak over which he was 30 for 62 (.484 AVG) and 21-game on-base streak, over which he had posted a .495 OBP. Turner extended both streaks with a single in his second at bat, then singled again the third time up.
Then he hit the second of back-to-back home runs in the seventh, following up on Michael A. Taylor’s solo shot with an opposite field blast, and then in his final at bat of the night, he singled again, before scoring on Juan Soto’s second two-run home run of the game.
Soto K’d swinging the first time up against Phillies’ starter Spencer Howard, walked in his second trip to the plate, homered after Turner’s second hit of the night in the fifth, when Howard left an 0-1 slider up outside that Soto sent to left for an opposite field, two-run shot.
He sent a fly to left in the seventh for an out, then came up against Brandon Workman in the ninth and hit a 1-2 curve out to right field for his second homer of the game, and 11th homer of the season.
The Nationals’ Nos. 1-2 hitters combined to go 6 for 9 with three runs scored and five RBIs in a losing effort in an 8-6 game in the City of Brotherly Love. It was quite a display.
“They’re seeing the ball well, they’re hitting the ball well, both of those guys,” skipper Davey Martinez said after the club’s third straight loss.
“You see Trea going opposite field homer, working good at bats, and then Juan, he’s just a special kid. I mean, he puts good at bats together, and he’s got power to all fields.
“Took a breaking ball his last at bat and hit it to straight-away center in the bullpen, that’s pretty impressive.”
Moving Soto to No. 2 in the order seems to be working out pretty well for the Nats’ third-year manager.
“They both are feeding off each other right now. Trea’s getting good pitches to hit because Juan’s behind him, and when Trea gets on, Soto’s getting pitched to. That’s how it works.
“That’s kind of why I wanted Juan to hit second. We need him to get pitched to, so far it’s been working out.”
“I’m just glad I’m hitting right behind him,” Soto said in a post-game Zoom call.
“He’s got real good speed and everything and he’s just feeling really good right now and we need him.”
Soto was asked if he’s seeing more strikes or better pitches since Turner’s getting on in front of him.
“I don’t think it’s because of Trea, but I’ve definitely seen more pitches in the zone and other kinds of stuff,” Soto told reporters.
“I just try to stay in my zone and everything, but I’m definitely seeing more pitches.
“I don’t know if it’s because I’m hitting behind Trea or in front of Howie [Kendrick], but in the second hole, I’m seeing a little bit more pitches.”
Turner said he didn’t think the pitches he was getting have changed much with Soto behind him.
“Not really,” he said. “I mean I get 3-2 offspeed pitches, and 3-1 offspeed pitches, and the game has just kind of changed in general. So, I think my first at bat I got a 3-1 slider. I’ve been getting 2-0 breaking balls.
“I don’t think anybody is — I guess people are scared of [Soto], but I don’t think anybody is scared of him that much where they’re going to keep doing what they think they need to do to get me out.”
Soto’s 2 for 4 game left him 23 for 69 (.333 AVG) with 10 HRs in 17 career games in Citizens Bank Park. What is it about CBP that’s so ... Soto-friendly?
“He really doesn’t try to do too much. He tries to stay in the middle of the field,” Martinez said.
“Left field, left-center field, the ball carries out that way, so he just tries to stay in the middle of the field and he sees the ball really well here, it’s a good ballpark to hit in.
“He likes coming here and he likes hitting here.”
“For me, since the first day I get here, I always tell my hitting coach that this field is big, and he told me that I wouldn’t say that, it’s not that big,” Soto joked.
“I just feel comfortable hitting here and everything and I feel good at the plate, I just tried to make a good swing at the ball, tried to look for a good pitch and they hanging, we banging.”