Juan Soto/Will Smith could be Part Deux of Bryce Harper/Hunter Strickland!

Some Soto Shuffle last night; Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

The bad blood between Braves’ reliever Will Smith, and superstar Juan Soto go back many years. In their first encounter on August 17, 2020 with no fans in the stands, Soto ambushed Smith on the first pitch he saw in the 9th inning for a 445 foot home run. Smith took exception to it. And it was on from there. On April 6, 2021, Soto hit the walk-off single against Smith and then on September 7, 2021 Smith plunked Soto on a 1-0 pitch. It could have escalated into a Hunter Strickland on Bryce Harper type of brawl — but Soto didn’t charge the mound and throw his helmet at Smith.

The Nats exacted their pound of flesh and put a bruise on Freddie Freeman in retaliation instead, and Freeman and Soto hugged it out after the inning. But last night’s 4-pitch bases loaded walk almost erupted into something — but Soto kept his cool and took his bases loaded RBI walk. It ended his 16-game hitting streak.

So what exactly is going on between Smith and Soto? They’ve faced each other 9 times, and Soto has only been retired 3-of-9 times with a .667 OBP against Smith. Some say it goes back to April 16, 2019, but Smith never faced Soto in that game.

As Smith was pulled from the game after the Soto walk, the Braves pitcher exited the mound cursing, and Soto waved goodbye to him before motioning with crying eyes. The cameras showed Smith flinging his glove in the dugout as they cut to commercial.

Somehow, you can’t imagine that this is over. Smith was collared with 3 earnies last night in just 2/3 of an inning pitched.


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