Neither look meant much on Monday 7-3 Losing to the New York Mets, but it could mean much more than that by Tuesday’s 6pm trading deadline. Soto knew it, too—while changing my halves later in the first half, he raised his helmet to the fans before heading to the dugout.
“I control what I can control,” Soto said. “Just go out there and play hard for those fans out there. Because like [the fans] They were saying, they love me. So I will love them again.”
Back in fourth, Soto’s 21st home run this season – far behind his former teammate Max Scherzer. He took his time rounding out the bases and touching the home plate. He walked into the bunker while fans stood behind him and clapped a little longer to savor the moment.
Scherzer certainly understood Soto’s position well: He spent six years with Washington before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Tria Turner on deadline last year, a move that sent the 2019 World Series champions into a rebuilding phase.
Scherzer’s presence on the hill was another reminder of how much the institution can change at this time of year. Nine more rounds passed on Monday night, and Soto and Bill were still with the Nationals. But a lot may change in the coming hours.
At last year’s trade deadline, Nationals were 47-55. After Monday’s loss, they turned 35-69 – the worst record in the major currencies. They are 31 games behind the first-placed Mets in the Eastern National League.
Soto and Bale got to Scherzer in the first half – with the help of some poor defense. Soto made a full count, walked twice, then doubled Bell down the right field line. At first, it looked like this would put the runners second and third, but right-hander Starling Mart threw the ball into second – as there was no teammate involved. Soto rushed home and Bale advanced to third–there was no dead covering that base either–as Washington took the lead.
Soto would face Scherzer two more times, swinging and then walking a fifth. The whole time, he’d shuffle his signature and stare at Scherzer.
“[Scherzer] Soto said with a smile. “He puts his face down. …He doesn’t want to look at me. And I understand him because he’s doing his job. And he’s giving 100 percent – it doesn’t matter how good our relationship is.”
Soto flashed his arm as Thomas Nido hit the board to finish a second half that could have been worse for rookie Patrick Corbin, who was struggling. Despite Soto’s contributions, New York still led 3-1.
Washington finished with only six strikes. After Soto’s run at home in the fourth inning, Luis Garcia snatched away guest Yadiel Hernandez to make it 4-3. Bale, the suspended free agent, finished 1 for 4, but Soto’s last streak would have fit if it was his last game as a National Freshman: 1 on 1 with three walks, two times, and a 421-foot blast.
“Up against a guy like Max, he had great bats,” said manager Dave Martinez. “Keep the ball in the zone, spoil some good pitches, get a ball to hit it and hit it away.”
Has anyone ever seen Scherzer Stadium for the Mets? The Nationals and Mets have faced 11 times this season, but this was only Washington’s second time for Scherzer. The spectacle of their former player playing with a division rival is still unnatural for Martinez.
“It’s still weird,” he said before the match. “When you see him, you kind of remember in your head. But then I say, ‘Okay, we should go out there and try to beat this guy. Let’s figure out how to do it.'”
How does Corbin fare? He threw 90 shots and allowed 4 runs in 4 runs. He was coming off his worst outing this season. He did not come out in the first half against the Dodgers On Wednesday – but he managed to retire in order to start Monday’s game.
But their next two rounds looked a lot like what Nationals fans have been used to over the past two seasons. In the second, the Mets scored three runs with five hits and a walk, and Soto’s assist was finally able to stop the bleeding.
Pete Alonso hit an 110.9 mph bullet off Corbin in the next inning that cleared the wall left of center in his 27th home run. Corbin needed 24 shots to break out of a goal-free fourth, and after Francisco Lindor retired for the first time from fifth, his night was complete. His ERA rose to 6.57, and his record dropped to 4-15.
Three-stroke Homer Lindor off Steve Sysch in sixth put the match away.