Juan Soto went 1 for 3 with a home run and a walk in last night’s game, leaving the 22-year-old right fielder 5 for 9 with two home runs and four walks in the first three games of the four-game series between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves in Truist Park. Soto took lefty Grant Dayton out to left-center in Tuesday night’s game, and on Wednesday hit one off lefty Drew Smyly, to left-center again, to pretty much the same spot.
Does Juan look more like Juan to his manager the way he’s swinging it right now, elevating the ball again after struggling to hit the ball in the air for a few weeks?
“He’s really on time,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after the club’s second consecutive win over their NL East rivals. “And I’m just watching where his contact point is and it’s right where it needs to be. So, like I said, it’s really good right now, so hopefully he stays that way. He’s in a good spot right now, he’s getting ready, he’s taking pitches the way he’s supposed to and he’s getting ready to hit the fastball early.”
Soto said on Tuesday night that it wasn’t the home run, but an opposite field single earlier in the game that was the one hit on which he really found his swing again.
“I think that was the key that got me set up,” Soto said, “when I hit that single to left field it just got me really on and really ready for it.”
Soto let a pitch from lefty Max Fried get deep and he took it the other way for a line drive that drove in two of the four runs he drove in in Tuesday’s game.
“This guy Fried is kind of tough, he’d been throwing me a couple cutters, that I don’t know if he knows he’s been throwing that, but yeah, it feels good to go that way and just let it travel a little bit more and see it a little bit deeper.”
How did that help him get locked in?
“It set everything up for the next at bats. It got me on time, it showed me where I can hit the ball, how far I could let it travel and how good I can hit it anywhere on the plate.”
“We talked to him about staying in the strike zone a little longer with his barrel,” Martinez said, “... and that swing right there, really, he stayed through the ball really well, hit the ball to left field, and he came back and he said, ‘Hey, I’m close.’ And sure enough he was right, because his next few swings were money.”
How about three straight games with homers, Juan?