Davey Martinez switched things up at the top of the Nationals’ lineup in the finale with the Brewers trying to get Juan Soto going, after he went 0 for 6 with a walk in the first two of three in D.C. with Milwaukee. What was his thinking in making the change?
“One, for me the leadoff spot and the second spot, to me, we’ve had a lot of guys on base for those guys,” Martinez explained. “So I wanted Juan just to move him around. They were joking about it before the game, they were laughing, you know, and you saw he took his walk. I just want him to relax. And I told him exactly that before the game today, I said, ‘Hey, just go out there and have fun, take your walks, get a good pitch to hit, you’re leading off, so hopefully you’ll get a good pitch to hit, and try to get on base and when the opportunity arises where you can get some guys on base, try to drive them in and just have fun and relax a little bit. And he led off with a walk, a good walk, and then hit a bullet again right behind second base, and then all of a sudden he got caught up in a moment, that wasn’t good, he got frustrated.”
The moment, was Soto’s sixth inning at bat, when he and home plate umpire Sam Holbrook had a difference of opinion on the strike zone, and a visibly frustrated Soto ended up going down looking with a runner on.
Soto went 0 for 3 with a walk in the Nationals’ 3-0 loss in the finale with the Brewers, leaving him 7 for 31 (.226/.368/.258) with a double, seven walks, and six Ks in the nine-game stretch at home in the nation’s capital.
“We got to get him going,” Martinez said. “He’s hitting balls hard, he’s walking, now we just got to get him to hit the ball in the air a little bit and start having him drive the ball.”
It’s not just Soto struggling at the plate, of course. Martinez’s club needs to get going as a whole. What’s it going to take?
“I tell you right now we need a little luck on our side,” the fourth-year skipper said. “We’ve hit some balls hard, we really have. So, these guys are up there and they’re giving us every effort in the world. Like I said, we’ve hit some balls hard, we need a little luck, one of these balls to fall with guys on base and things will change for us. So, we’re going to do this again tomorrow, we got a flight to Atlanta, come back and we’re going to bang heads with the Braves and hopefully we come out on top at the end of the day.”