PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals rookie Juan Soto started his 49th consecutive game on Wednesday night, and each time manager Dave Martinez has attempted to give him a day off, Soto has responded emphatically that he does not need one. Even though August has been the worst month of the phenom's young career so far, Soto insists he is not tiring.
Soto launched one of his trademark opposite-field, two-run homers against Phillies starter Jacob Arrieta in the third inning of an 8-6 loss to further back that point. It was Soto's 16th home run of the year, moving him into a tie with Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. for the fourth-most home runs by a teenager in MLB history, and it gave the Nats a lead after Trea Turner hit a two-run homer earlier in the frame.
By the time Soto was born in October 1998, Griffey was already well into his career, completing his 10th season and having won the American League Most Valuable Player Award the previous year. So, it was understandable that Soto had not seen much of Griffey, other than some video of that legendary swing.
"I've seen a couple videos of him and I saw a really good swing, perfect swing," Soto said. "And he's a very good outfielder, too. I like him. He's very good."
It was Soto's first homer since Aug. 13, and he entered the game with a slash line of .233/.389/.344 this month -- solid numbers, but down from the blazing start that made him one of the frontrunners to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Still, Soto insists he is not slowing down. He said he would be happy to take a day off if Martinez wanted, but his body feels strong still and he is happy to remain in the lineup.
"He's been doing well," Martinez said prior to the game. "We thought about tinkering today, about giving him [a day off], but he's been doing well. I talk to him every day and from what I've seen is, he's doing OK."
If Soto can return to form in the final month of the regular season, he could challenge for the No. 1 spot for home runs as a teenager. Tony Conigliaro is the all-time leader with 24, while Nats outfielder Bryce Harper (22) is second on the list, followed by Mel Ott (19).