Nats ride Soto's historic 2-HR game to split in NY

June 14th, 2018

NEW YORK -- The first game Juan Soto played in this season came at State Mutual Stadium, the home of the Braves' Class A Rome affiliate, which seats a little more than 5,000 people. Soto offered a glimpse of his enormous potential in that game, when he homered for Hagerstown, but even then it would have been difficult to imagine how different his stage would be just two months later. And how well he would handle it.
On Wednesday night, Soto played for the first time in his career at Yankee Stadium in front of 45,030 fans. And he responded by becoming the fifth-youngest player in Major League history to record a multihomer game, swatting a three-run homer in the fourth that squeaked over the left-field wall and a towering 436-foot solo homer to center field in the seventh to power the Nats to a 5-4 victory.
"For him to go out there and do what he did today, in front of this crowd, it tells you a little bit about the character that he brings," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.
At 19 years old and 231 days, Soto became the youngest player with a multihomer game in the regular season since Andruw Jones (19 years, 121 days) went deep twice for the Braves on Aug. 22, 1996. Soto also became the youngest player to homer in the regular season in the Bronx since Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. went deep twice at the old Yankee Stadium on May 30, 1989.

Soto was not yet born when those two icons accomplished those feats, and he felt honored to have his name mentioned among them on Wednesday night.
"One of the best," Soto said with a smile when asked to rank this game in his career. "I feel great."

Soto -- the team's No. 2 prospect and the game's 13th overall prospect -- has impressed the Nationals by handling everything they have thrown at him at such a young age. When Soto began the season at Class A, the team did not envision he would arrive in the Majors so quickly. When they promoted him to D.C., it was in part because they had run out of outfielders following a plethora of injuries. But now, even with the Nats outfield at full strength, Soto has forced his way into increased playing time.
Through the first 20 games of his Major League career, Soto is batting .344/.447/.641 with five home runs, four of which have come against left-handers.
"He's the truth," right-hander said.
"It's unbelievable, honestly," added right-hander , who gave up four runs in five innings after being promoted from the Minors earlier in the day to make the start.

With some of his uncles in the crowd, Soto powered a Nationals offense that had not scored since Saturday, a span of 19 innings, before a sacrifice fly from in the first inning.
And Washington started off playing a sloppy game, with a pair of runners getting picked off on the bases and another thrown out trying to advance. Martinez called it an ugly game, before Soto turned it around. He smiled as the first home run sneaked over the fence, and he stoically watched as his moonshot in the seventh gave the Nats a 5-4 lead.
Soto's phone was bombarded with congratulatory text messages after the game, so many that he laughed and said there had been too many to count. Washington believed it had a future star on its hands with Soto, someone who could roam the outfield in D.C. for years to come. No one could have guessed how quickly he would arrive and how forcefully he would announce his arrival.

"From where he started this year to be here, there's good reason," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "We got a peek at it tonight."
Soto, Torres combine for feat not seen since 1887
Soto's fourth-inning home run, per Statcast™, had an exit velocity of 103.1 mph, but it was hit at a 45-degree launch angle, giving the fly a 14 percent hit probability. But left fielder ran out of room as the 338-foot fly ball cleared the wall and bounced off a fan in the front row and back onto the field.
"I was surprised," Soto said. "Because I hit it pretty good, but too high. So, I was running the bases saying keep going, keep going, keep going. When it was gone, I felt very good."

Soto became the fifth-youngest player in MLB history to homer twice in a game. 
Danny Murphy, Cubs (19 years, 35 days), 9/27/1961
Mel Ott, Giants (Twice -- 19 years, 77 days; and 19 years, 187 days), 5/18/1928 and 9/5/1928
Andruw Jones, Braves (19 years, 121 days), 8/22/1996
Ken Griffey Jr. (Twice -- 19 years, 190 days; and 19 years, 226 days ), 5/30/1989 and 7/5/1989
Soto (19 years, 231 days), 6/13/2018

swiped his 100th career base in the first inning, becoming the fourth-fastest active player (by games) to reach that mark.
-- 219 games
Dee Gordon -- 233 games
-- 263 games
Turner -- 264 games

Following an off-day on Thursday, the Nationals travel to Toronto for the first time since 2012 for the start of a three-game series on Friday night at Rogers Centre. Left-hander will take the mound for the Nats, trying to bounce back from his shortest outing of the season. will be the opposing pitcher for Toronto; first pitch is at 7:07 p.m. ET.