Soto goes back in time, homers before debut
WASHINGTON -- When this game between the Yankees and Nationals initially began on May 15, Juan Soto went 3-for-4 at the plate for Double-A Harrisburg. Five days later, he received the call to Washington and became the youngest player in the Majors.
But Soto was still eligible to play when this suspended game resumed Monday at Nationals Park, and as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, the rookie launched a two-run homer near the concourse in the second deck in right field to provide the difference in Washington's 5-3 victory.
The ball came off Soto's bat at 111.8 mph against right-hander Chad Green and will count as his sixth career home run, although it came before his Major League debut. Perhaps, time travel can be added to the 19-year old phenom's impressive resume.
"I wish he was climbing the ladder more routinely and was in Double-A now," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said with a smile. "What can you say? Nineteen and obviously doing really well and has hurt us a couple of games."
The resumption of this suspended game between the Nationals and Yankees from May 15 left room for the unusual and quirky. Christopher Austin is responsible for driving in all three Yankees runs, but he began the day in Triple-A. Adam Eaton made a pinch-hitting appearance, even though it began five days after he had undergone ankle surgery. Greg Bird was playing in a Minor League rehab assignment at this time.
All that paled in comparison to Soto.
Soto's Major League debut will still officially be recognized as May 20, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, although this home run will also count five days before that date.
"I don't think about all that," Soto said. "I know because somebody told me. I just come to play my game and keep going."
It will also go down as his first career pinch-hit home run. Soto even made a heads-up play in the top of the seventh inning to double off Gary Sanchez at first base after catching a line drive off the bat of Didi Gregorius.
So Soto continues to punish the Yankees. In his first career game at Yankee Stadium last week, he swatted a pair of home runs to lead the Nats to victory. And with one swing on the bat Monday, Soto catapulted the Nationals to another win in a game where he was not even initially in the Majors.
"A lot of people tell me, 'Hey, you're killing the Yankees,'" Soto said with a smile. "Everybody knows the Yankees, likes the Yankees. That feels pretty good."