Juan Soto went 5 for 11 in the Washington Nationals’ four-game series with Atlanta’s Braves down in Georgia this week, hitting two home runs, striking out twice, and walking twice, as the NL East rivals split the matchup in Truist Park.
As the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes for the first of three with Philadelphia’s Phillies last night in Citizens Bank Park, Soto started the series having reached base in, “23 of his last 26 games (26 H, 23 BB) dating to May 7,” and Soto made it 24 of 27 with a sixth inning home run off Zack Wheeler, which gave Soto three homers over his last four games, after he hit four in his first 40 games this season. Fair to say he’s on a roll and locked in?
“He’s swinging the bat well,” manager Davey Martinez said after Friday night’s 2-1 win over the Phillies. “I mean, we’ve seen him go through stretches where he does this, so let’s keep him locked in. He’s swinging the bat well, he’s hitting the ball really well, so he helped us win a big game tonight.”
The opener in CBP was tied at 1-1 after five, but Soto’s opposite field blast put the visiting team up 2-1, and gave starter Max Scherzer a boost as he went back out and pitched into the eighth.
In his previous two starts, Scherzer received one run of support total. Wheeler held the Nats to one run through 5 2⁄3 innings before Soto’s blast, so it was another tight, low-scoring start for Scherzer.
“I mean, you know going up against Zack it’s going to tough matchup and the runs are going to be at a premium,” the Nationals’ ace said after the game.
“I’ve been facing good arms across the game for a handful of starts now, so it was good to be able to scratch that second run across and get the lead. I just felt like, ‘Hey, I finally got a lead here, going deeper into the game, let’s do everything to protect it, let’s not get caught making a mistake.’ And so fortunately enough I was able to avoid any additional solo shots, or any innings where they were able to scratch runs across.
“Credit to our guys to be able to grind out Zack, he’s been throwing the ball great this year, and he’s really got tough stuff, so awesome to be able to get that second run.”
The homer was Soto’s 11th in 21 career games in Citizens Bank Park, where, after a 1 for 4 night, he’s now 26 for 82 (.317 AVG).
“I like the field,” Soto said when asked about his success in the Phillies’ home.
“I like the stadium, pretty small, the ball flies,” the Nationals’ 22-year-old outfielder added.
“I like it. I don’t know, man, I just try to come here, try to do the same things against every team. Just try to put the ball in play, try to help my team as much as I can, and try to take advantage of the field. Try to get the ball to the other way and let it travel.”
His last three home runs have all gone out the other way. Will he do it again today?