The Yankees had no solution for 19-year-old phenom Juan Soto‘s power stroke Wednesday night, as the phenom slugged two home runs to power the Nationals to a series split in the Bronx.
Sonny Gray did not have his best stuff, but battled his way through five innings on 89 pitches. The toughest pitch he threw was a 1-0 fastball to Soto in the fourth inning, which looked like a lazy fly ball to left field. But, even with its 14% Statcast hit probability, it managed to carry out over the left field wall for a go-ahead three-run shot.
Soto struck again in the seventh inning once Chasen Shreve had retired the Nats in order in his first inning of relief. Once again, a 1-0 fastball came back to haunt a Yankee pitcher. But, this home run for Soto was no wall-scraper. With an exit velocity of 111.2 mph and an estimated distance of 436 feet, it’s safe to say Soto got all of that Shreve pitch.
The Nationals got the scoring going in the first inning. Adam Eaton doubled, Trea Turner moved him to third with an infield single before Anthony Rendon hit a sacrifice fly to score Eaton. In the bottom of the first, Brett Gardner singled, stole second and moved to third on a Spencer Kieboom throwing error before Aaron Judge knocked him in with a sac fly of his own.
Greg Bird, demoted to the No. 7 spot in the lineup, smoked his third homer of the year off Nats’ spot-starter Erick Fedde in the bottom of the second. Giancarlo Stanton knocked Judge in with an RBI single in the bottom of the third to give the Yankees a 2-run lead prior to Soto’s unfortunate homer.
Gleyber Torres drilled his 12th home run of the year to lead off the fifth against Fedde, which marks a career-high for the 21-year-old. From there, however, the Yankees offense would grind to a halt. They finished the evening 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position on the evening, with the one being Stanton’s RBI single. Bird doubled to leadoff the seventh but was stranded. A Didi Gregorius walk and Stanton single were wasted in the eighth.
Some postgame notes:
- Juan Soto and Gleyber Torres have a combined age of 41 years, 48 days, the lowest by opposing players to homer in the same game since Mike Tiernan and Egyptian Healy on May 19, 1887, per Stats by STATS (Twitter).
- Masahiro Tanaka was sent home with an unspecified illness prior to Wednesday’s game, George A. King III of the New York Post reported (Twitter). After the game, Aaron Boone told reporters it was an inner ear infection (Twitter).
- Sonny Gray was spotted with a “soft brace” on his right elbow, but would not say what it was for, per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch and The Athletic‘s Marc Carig. Carig told Pinstripe Point of View that it was the first time he’d seen Gray wear it, but he “could have missed it” before. It’s something worth watching.
The Tampa Bay Rays, who have won three straight but just four of their last 10, come to town for a four-game series. Lefty Blake Snell, who is breaking out in 2018, faces Domingo Germán, who is looking to settle into the No. 5 spot in the Yankees rotation now that Jordan Montgomery is out for the season.