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Washington Nationals’ lineup for 1st of 3 with the Philadelphia Phillies in D.C.

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Davey Martinez and Co. are back home in the nation’s capital for the start of a three-game series with the Phillies.

Toronto Blue Jays v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Juan Soto walked twice, on eight total pitches, in his first two plate appearances against New York Mets’ right-hander Tylor Megill on Sunday, but the third time up in Citi Field, he missed a two-seamer up and in from left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, fouled off another sinker in that was out of the zone, then spit on a sinker and cutter down and away before taking a sinker down the middle of the plate out to left field for the first home run of the year Loup’s allowed.

“For me, I just tried to be aggressive,” Soto said of his approach in all three of those trips to the plate against the Mets. “I think [Megill] had a pretty good fastball to hit, I was just ready waiting for a mistake, but he just don’t want to play, he just went around and tried to walk me. Then in the other at bat, I know this guy [Loup] has got a pretty good sinker, and pretty good stuff, and he’s been doing great this year, so I just tried to put the ball in play, just tried to get contact and try to see where I can go, and try to wait for the mistake, so he missed right down the middle and I made the contact.”

After taking his 101st and 102nd walks of the season, Soto hit his 22nd home run of the 2021 campaign.

He was just 1 for 8 in the first two games of the series, before a 1 for 2, two-walk game in the finale.

What did the Mets’ pitchers do to keep Soto in check for most of the series?

“They just keep me jammed,” Soto said. “I mean, I hit a couple balls almost on the track, I just don’t get my barrel, and they’ve been throwing great pitches, they have a great bullpen, and they have really good starting pitching. I just tried to square up, but I didn’t, I just get a little bit off.”

“We’ve talked about him all the time, he’s just such a good hitter,” manager Davey Martinez said after Sunday’s loss. “He understands the strike zone, he understands that he’s going to accept his walks, and like we always talk about, when he gets a good pitch to hit, he’s going to try to hit it hard, and today was the perfect example of what he can do when that happens. I expect him to continue to have good at bats, to be a good teammate, to do everything that he’s capable of doing, he’s been really awesome through all of this, and he’s going out there, he’s playing the game the right way and trying to help us win games.”

Soto was also asked about leading the league with the lowest chase rate in the majors as of Sunday morning. Is that something that’s even on his radar?

“I just don’t even think about it, I just go out and play,” he said. “Whenever they want to play, I play, when they don’t want to play, I take my walks.”

Will the Phillies want to play with Soto?

Oh, yeah, and Keibert Ruiz is catching with Josiah Gray on the mound tonight. Max and Trea who?

HERE’S THE NATS’ LINEUP FOR THE SERIES OPENER WITH THE PHILS: