Juan Soto’s 421 foot home run last night in Wrigley Field bounced off the scoreboard in right field. He finally elevated one. It was Soto’s fourth of the year, and his second since coming off of the Injured List, which he landed on with a left shoulder strain back on April 20th. Soto took the 3-2 slider from Jake Arrieta for a ride, and admired it. The 22-year-old outfielder and the Nationals’ manager, Davey Martinez, were happy to see one go out after a couple weeks of well-struck ground balls.
“He’s starting to get the ball in the air,” Martinez said after the 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. “Starting to hit the ball the other way, which is nice, on the line. He’s seeing the ball well, and he’s hitting the ball. Like I said, he’s been really hitting the ball hard, it’s just been on the ground, and now he’s starting to elevate the ball. So it’s good to see. Huge game for him today.”
Soto went 3 for 5, his second three-hit game this season, and his third multi-hit game in the last five games.
“It feels better. We figured it out little by little. I think I feel great. I started putting the ball in the air a couple times, and it feels almost normal again,” Soto told reporters in his post-win Zoom call.
“I really let the ball travel a little bit,” Soto said of the home run pitch.
“I’m seeing the ball really well against him and since I see that ball coming in, I know he’s not going to be down or anything like that, it’s a cutter, he tried it in my at bat before. So I was a little bit aware of it, and I just see it and I got good contact.”
Soto now has hits in eight of the last nine games, going 12 for 36 over that stretch as he’s worked to get his swing back where he wanted it and has started to look more like himself.
The home run last night ended up being the winning run, as the Cubs rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the ninth before falling short. The win was the first in Chicago after the Nationals lost a couple games to start the four-game series.
“We played really hard baseball, we tried to grind out every pitch, every moment, it doesn’t matter if we give up a couple things, we keep fighting,” Soto said.
“I think that’s our plan, to keep fighting no matter what is going on, and I think it’s a great win.”
Now they just have to do it again to earn a split of the series...