On a wing and a prayer with the Nats losing 3-to-1, Juan Soto hit a 45° wedge to the opposite field and the wind carried it 338 feet to the first row for a 3-run home run and a 4-to-3 lead. You have to see it to believe it. Off the bat, it looked like a can-of-corn fly-out. Unfortunately, the Nats spot starter Erick Fedde who was called up today gave up a home run that tied the game. Then in the 7th inning, Juan Soto obliterated a baseball that flew 436 feet to an area that baseballs just don’t go. It was the game winner and set the final score at 5-to-4 — and the story does not end there as the bullpen had to hold that 1-run lead. The combination of Justin Miller, Sammy Solis, Ryan Madson, and Sean Doolittle (17th save) threw a combined 3-inning shutout to secure the win credited to Justin Miller.
This win was definitely one of the most satisfying wins of the season, and it was the teenager Juan Soto who did it all. The Nationals had 10-hits and 2-walks in the game, and should have scored more runs if it wasn’t for multiple baserunning gaffes as the Nats took themselves off of the basepaths 5 times with some mistakes and some aggressive outs. Luckily, Soto picked everyone up. Adam Eaton and Matt Adams had 3-hits a piece and Trea Turner and Juan Soto had 2-hits each, and it was Soto who set a record as the youngest player (19 years 207 days old) to ever homer twice in a game with a walk in Yankee Stadium.
“I keep doing my thing,” Juan Soto said. “Be myself. Have fun. I keep doing the same things I was doing in the Minor Leagues.
What else can we say about Juan Soto?
“[Juan Soto] worked good at-bats,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He understands the game He understands at-bats. He will swing at a bad pitch then he will lay-off the next one. He is not afraid to take his walks. He is learning every day. He picked us up today.”
The Nationals turned their recent scoring drought into a storm of offense today, but at some point they need the entire line-up to contribute. Much credit to the Yankees defense as they robbed Anthony Rendon twice in the game of what looked like sure hits turned into outs.
“I’ll be honest with you. We gave them 5-outs [on the basepaths]. We talked about [the running mistakes] already,” Dave Martinez said. “We have to be aggressive, but we have to be aggressive-smart.”
The Nationals only had one stolen base in the game and that was from Trea Turner who stole his 100th career steal base as the 3rd fastest active player to that mark in 264 games trailing just Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon. Another milestone was for Mike Rizzo won his 800th career game as the Nationals General Manager. Also, a happy 31st birthday to Justin Miller.
“Honestly, I don’t know how we got him,” Martinez said about Justin Miller. “But I am glad he is here.”
Justin Miller has an air of mystery about him. His manager does not even know how the Nationals acquired him, and the competition has been confounded with only two-hits against him and a 17.72 K/9 which is the highest output for “Miller Time” at any level in the Minors or Majors and he has done this in just 8 games and 10 2/3 innings where Fangraphs rates him as the Nationals 12th most valuable player at a +0.9 WAR. Justin Miller is now 4-0 for the Nationals as he was the pitcher of record when Soto hit the game winning home run. Miller didn’t want to talk about himself after the game, rather he echoed what Anthony Rendon said about Soto when Rendon was on rehab with the Potomac Nationals, “He’s the Truth.” That seems to be the popular short answer on the phenom.
This game had a playoff feel in front of a Yankee Stadium crowd of 45,030 boisterous fans who got real loud whenever the Yankees threatened which was often, and the Nationals doused the flames with 9 key strikeouts and a pivotal caught stealing with Giancarlo Stanton standing in the batter’s box to end an inning. The other rookie, Spencer Kieboom, caught Didi Gregorius stealing on a throw from his knees that snuffed out a Yankees threat. The Nationals infield and outfield made every play and much credit to manager Davey Martinez for making all the right moves tonight. He didn’t test fate with Fedde and pulled him after the 5th inning to get the game to his well-rested bullpen. The bullpen was spectacular in shutting out the Bronx Bombers and showing them that the guys from Washington, D.C. can do what the Yankees did to the Nats last night. Two can play that game.