Right fielder Juan Soto continues to take the baseball world by storm at just the age of 22.
The Nationals’ superstar came into Saturday night’s 9-5 loss to the Dodgers batting .364 with a .926 OPS to start the 2021 season. He may have been seeking his first home run of the year, but he took care of that -- and then some -- blasting a pair of dingers deep into the Southern California night.
In the sixth inning, Soto clobbered a high fastball from Dodgers starter Julio Urías for his first home run of the season, sending it into the right-field pavilion at Dodger Stadium. The 407-foot homer jumped off Soto’s bat with a 109.5 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast.
Before the homer, the Nationals offense was held in check by Urías after the lefty allowed five hits in the first two innings of the game. Urías had settled in after a rocky start, retiring 11 Nationals batters in a row before Soto’s solo shot.
Soto came back up in the ninth inning and gave the Nats a bit of a scare after fouling a pitch off his foot against Dodgers reliever Scott Alexander. After a visit with the trainer and assuring everybody he was OK, Soto promptly hit another homer, a rocket to right field with a 106.6 mph exit velocity.
“[Soto] got back in the box, and as you see, he worked a good at-bat and hit a ball out of the ballpark,” manager Dave Martinez said of the sequence. “He’s swinging that bat well right now, so hopefully it’s just nothing.”
Soto's electric homers were the highlight for the Nats on the evening, a night that otherwise featured Patrick Corbin allowing six runs in his 4 1/3 innings of work in his season debut and the team's overall offensive struggles against Urías.
The left-handed-hitting Soto has done well against lefties. In his career he’s slashed .294/.377/.535 with 20 home runs and 74 RBIs, a stat line that looks even better after two more homers against southpaws -- and an impressive one in Urías, who entered the night having held lefties to a .219 batting average and just eight homers thus far in his career.
“I haven’t had the chance to chat with [Soto] or be close to him, but there’s a lot of respect there,” Urías said in Spanish after the game. “We know the tremendous player and hitter he is, and that was shown in the game. He got me on the homer, and he got me really good.”
Soto’s two-run blast also moved him up in the history books.
Amazingly, Saturday marked Soto's eighth multi-homer game in his big league career already. That put him in a tie for seventh all-time among players to have multi-homer games before turning 23 since at least 1901. The all-time record is held by Eddie Matthews, who had 13.
"I’ve said this before,” Martinez said. “Kid’s a good hitter. [Soto] knows the strike zone so well. When he gets a good pitch to hit, he puts a good swing on it. It was a good night for him.”