Soler eclipse at Fenway as slugger crushes HRs

August 7th, 2019

BOSTON -- threw on 's pullover before the game. Tuesday’s temperature had dropped a little, and Soler couldn’t find his own long-sleeve warmup gear for batting practice.

Perhaps that shirt was the key to warming up at the plate, too.

The day after Viloria belted the first home run of his career, Soler smacked two homers -- Nos. 30 and 31 -- in the Royals’ 6-2 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“He’s understanding what it takes to be a successful power hitter in the American League,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Soler began his home run barrage off Red Sox starter in the fourth inning. He crushed a 412-foot shot (which flew over everything in left and nobody saw land except people who happened to be walking by Fenway on a Tuesday night) off the first pitch, a 93.8 mph four-seam fastball. Two frames later, he sent an 86.8 mph slider 385 feet into left-center field, according to Statcast.

Soler knew the first home run, which had a 110.8 mph exit velocity, was gone. The second, he said, he wasn’t as sure.

“I’m used to swinging the bat hard,” Soler said through a translator. “Kansas City, obviously, is a big ballpark. When I get to a park like this, I feel a little more comfortable hitting the ball out of the ballpark because the park is smaller.”

Soler’s second two-run shot was part of a three-run sixth inning that gave the Royals a cushion to secure the road win.

“It was nice,” starting pitcher said. “Tight game early, and then to have that big inning and bust it open kind of took the pressure off me.”

Soler became the 10th Major League player to reach 30 home runs this season. Entering Tuesday’s game, only , , and had hit as many in the AL.

A healthy Soler has well surpassed his previous season high of 12 home runs, which he accomplished over 86 games played in 2016. Last year, he fractured his left foot in mid-June and was limited to 61 games. Soler hit just nine home runs in ‘18.

“He’s just come a long way,” Yost said. “He really started to come a long way last year, but ended up breaking his foot. It kind of hampered him a little bit. But he’s been healthy this year and really putting together a nice year.”

With 31 home runs after 115 games, Soler is on a 162-game pace to reach 44 home runs. If he does, he would break the Royals’ single-season franchise record of 38 homers, set by in 2017. When it comes specifically to Royals outfielders, Soler has hit the most home runs since Jermaine Dye hit 33 in 2000.

“It means a lot for me, for my family, for the organization,” Soler said of hitting 30. “It’s like the magic number.”

Tuesday was Soler's third multi-home run game of his career, but he hadn't accomplished the feat in quite some time. Soler last belted two homers on April 13, 2015, against the Reds as a member of the Cubs. He entered the game hitless in his last six at-bats, including an 0-for-3 night in the series opener on Monday.

“He’s just putting it all together now,” Yost said. “The competitiveness -- he’s fighting each and every at-bat. Doesn’t matter what the score is, if an umpire misses a call, he’s competing, you can see. He’s not waiting to get into a good count. If he gets a good pitch, he’s turning it loose. He’s just putting his whole offensive game together.”