Josh Bell tripled the first time up last night, but was stranded. The second time he stepped in, in the third, the switch-hitting, 29-year-old slugger grounded out, then he doubled with one out in the top of the sixth, and scored the first run of the game for either team on Luis García’s RBI double to right-center field, 1-0.
The Rangers rallied to tie it with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning in the series opener with the Washington Nationals in Arlington, Texas’s Globe Life Field, but in the eighth, Juan Soto doubled to lead off the top of the inning, and Bell drove him in with an RBI single back up the middle of the field, 2-1, and the visitors held on for a one-run win in the first of three.
Soto went 1 for 4 with a K, but the double to the left-center gap was another positive sign for the 23-year-old slugger, and Bell went 3 for 5 with three of the Nationals’ nine hits on the night, and finished a home run short of the cycle.
“He had a great night,” manager Davey Martinez said after the game, which Bell finished with a .302 AVG on the year. “He’s been consistent for us all year long. He’s playing well.
“We always talk about how well he’s hitting, but he’s even playing — he’s playing good defense for us, which is awesome. So, love him. He goes out there every day, you know what you’re going to get from him. He’s a professional.
“Right now he’s having some big hits for us.”
Bell started the night 21 for 73 (.288/.386/.630) with two doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 12 walks, and 18 Ks in 88 plate appearances in June, with seven of his 11 HRs overall in 2022 hit in the last few weeks.
Soto began the series in a slump, going 2 for 26 in the previous eight games (.077/.273/.192) with a home run, seven walks, and four Ks in 33 PAs over that stretch, but that rally-starting, two-base hit to left-center was another good sign according to his manager.
Now if he can just do it consistently.
“Yes, he can do that,” Martinez said.
“We’ve seen him do it, and I really believe that he will do it. But for me it’s just, hey, for me he’s trying really hard, he really is. You can see with guys on base, we got to get him to relax and just like I said, use the whole field.
“When he hits the ball up the middle of the field like that, he’s good. And that was 97 [MPH].
“So he stayed on it and drove the ball to left-center field, which was beautiful. He’s going to hit, but we just got to get him to relax and not try to do too much.”
Who’s going to spark the Nats in this afternoon’s (4:05 PM ET) matchup with the Rangers?