Fighting to hold on to a Wild Card spot in the American League, the Boston Red Sox are not going to let Juan Soto beat them, so they approached him carefully in the series opener last night in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park, walking him four times, not intentionally, but in a pitching him carefully kind of way.
Soto, of course, took his walks, and struck out the one time Sox’ starter Eduardo Rodriguez challenged him with a runner on first and two out in the fifth, in what was a 0-0 game at that point.
As the Nationals noted on Twitter last night, Soto’s four-walk game was his 52nd career game reaching base 4+ times, and now the 22-year-old slugger is behind only Ted Williams (54) in MLB history when it comes to total games reaching base 4+ times before turning 23.
“They’ve been pitching around him a lot this last couple weeks,” Davey Martinez said after the Nationals’ 4-2 loss. “But like I said, true to form, he’s going to take his walks, he’s going to get on base, and that’s — to me, that’s a really good teammate, that’s a really good hitter. He’s going to do whatever it takes to help the team win, so he got some pitches to hit, and he was frustrated that he missed them, but then he gets back in and draws that walk. So just another good day for him getting on base, you know, and they’ll make a mistake one of these days this weekend, and he’ll hit the ball hard.”
Martinez talked before last night’s game about the example Soto sets for his teammates, with his approach at the plate, and his work behind the scenes in what has been a tough season at times for the young outfielder, who watched as a number of the teammates he grew up and won a World Series with were dealt away at the July 30th trade deadline, and had to adjust to the new reality in the nation’s capital the next day.
“We all know Soto has been amazing since he’s been here, since we’ve had him,” Martinez said. “This year was, as you know, he went through a period where a lot of his teammates left and were gone, guys that he built relationships with and bonded. For a while there he had a tough time, and then he realized that he’s got another group of young kids that he can help. He’s been a teacher, he’s been a mentor, guys always ask him questions, he’s been amazing, and all of a sudden it translated to him getting back to who he is and playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
In 56 games and 250 plate appearances since the trade deadline, Soto is now 60 for 173 (.347/.540/.601) with nine doubles, 11 home runs, 73 walks, and 28 Ks.
Will he get anything to hit today?