Soto stays hot with game-winning homer

May 25th, 2019

WASHINGTON -- During this disappointing season, one constant for the Nationals has been their ability to fight back when faced with adversity.

In a game Friday that displayed all their warts, Washington also showed an impressive amount of heart in ending its five-game losing streak, rallying from three deficits to pull out a dramatic 12-10 triumph over the Marlins, keyed by Juan Soto’s three-run, eighth inning home run.

“We just never give up,” Soto said. “Every time, every inning, we try to fight. No matter if we’re down, we try to keep going.”

After rallying earlier from 4-1 and 8-4 to tie the score, Washington appeared to be headed toward another dispiriting defeat after its troubled bullpen allowed an eighth-inning run to Miami to make it 9-8. But with one out in the bottom of the frame, Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon drew walks, leading the Marlins to bring in hard-throwing righty Tayron Guerrero from the pen.

Undeterred by Guerrero’s heat, Soto deposited a 100.1 mph fastball on a 3-1 count deep into the center field seats for an 11-9 lead.

“I was seeing the ball really well against him,” Soto said. “I was seeing the ball like it was 99 [mph], and I was seeing it 94. So when I swung at that ball, I swung a little bit hard. I just tried to hit the ball, and let’s see what happens.”

The clutch homer continued Soto’s hot performance, as he went 3-for-4 on the night and is now 15-for-30 with two homers and nine RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.

“It was huge,” manager Davey Martinez said of Soto’s homer. “When he starts using the middle of the field, he’s really good. And he’s been doing that.”

Matt Adams followed with his 100th career home run, hammering a 101.5 mph pitch from Guerrero over the scoreboard in right. Those are the No's. 1 and 2 fastest pitches hit for homers by Nationals players in the pitch tracking era, which started in 2008.

Washington had several chances to show its resiliency in order to overcome shaky pitching and four errors on the night. Rendon hit a two-run homer in the third inning for his 10th of the season to tie the score at 4-4, while Victor Robles added a clutch, two-run double in the seventh to help the Nationals draw even at 8-8.

“It was a sloppy game, but hey, you know what, these guys don’t quit,” Martinez said. “They play hard. But we’ve got to play better. We have to be consistent. I’m proud of these guys for not quitting. They could have folded early. But they battled back. They keep battling. It’s to no surprise with these guys the way they come back and keep playing, but we have to play clean baseball.”

Sean Doolittle closed out the improbable victory for his ninth save despite allowing a 456-foot homer to Jorge Alfaro as Washington won its first home series opener in nine tries.

“You don’t expect to make four errors or the mistakes we did and win each and every day,” shortstop Trea Turner said. “We got lucky, I guess, tonight. I think we fought hard, but we can’t play like that every day.”