Juan Soto started last night’s game with a 27-game on-base streak going, and he’d gone 10 games, and 44 plate appearances, without a strikeout, but going up against D-backs’ lefty Madison Bumgarner, he struck out twice, and he added a third K in his final PA, against Luke Weaver.
His on-base streak ended, and it was Soto’s first three-strikeout game of the season. Why did he have so much trouble with Bumgarner (against whom he was 0 for 3 with two BBs before last night)?
Manager Davey Martinez said before the game he went with a right-hand heavy lineup for the matchup, because, “Bumgarner is really tough on lefties,” and Soto hasn’t hit lefties all that well this season (.220/.351/.398 in 148 PAs vs his .276/.379/.486 career line vs lefties), so maybe it was to be expected.
After the game, he talked about why Arizona’s southpaw is such a tough at-bat for left-hand hitters.
“I think it’s just the fact — like I said, it’s tough to pick up,” he explained, “especially batting left-handed against him — it comes from down and kind of sidearm, and he hides the ball really well, so the ball gets on you fairly quickly.”
Bumgarner held the Nationals to two runs on four hits, striking out nine in an eight-inning outing in a 7-2 win for the Diamondbacks.
The first two games out of the All-Star Break have been more of the same for the struggling Nationals’ offense. Are they still pressing as they try to make something happen?
“I think especially after the Break, guys are still trying to find themselves again, and getting in that groove,” Martinez said after the 16th loss in 18 games in July. “So hopefully, tomorrow we’ll come out and we’ll start swinging the bats the way we’re capable of swinging. But it’s been a struggle. Consistency has been the biggest thing. Some days we look like we’re going to hit the ball really, really well. Other days we come out and like tonight ... and like I said, give Bumgarner a lot of credit, but we didn’t hit the ball at all. We struck out a bunch of times and we just didn’t see the ball, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll come out tomorrow and put some runs up early and often.”
Victor Robles connected for the Nats’ only extra-base hit of the night when he homered off the D-backs’ lefty in the eighth inning, with the Nationals trailing 7-1, and Bumgarner said in his post-game scrum with reporters he didn’t appreciate the way Robles watched it.
“He’s a clown, golly,” Bumgarner said. “No shame. It was 7-1, and you hit your third home run of the year, and you act like Barry Bonds breaking the record. Clean it up. I don’t care about giving up the run. Hell, we won 7-2, 8-2, whatever it was. It’s frustrating. I’m the old grumpy guy, I know, but that type of stuff didn’t use to happen. Now, it’s — it’s ridiculous.”
Oh, we got beef going into the series finale?
HERE’S THE NATIONALS’ LINEUP FOR THE FINALE WITH THE D-BACKS:
Today's lineup.#NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/xyUesEDqVe— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 24, 2022