Juan Soto homers in loss to Mets as trade deadline nears

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Juan Soto’s remaining at-bat Monday evening wasn’t uncommon: He walked to open the underside of the eighth inning for his third free cross of the sport.

What occurred afterward wasn’t so typical: As Soto took off his tools alongside the primary bottom line, he obtained a standing ovation from the followers at Nationals Park. They had been acknowledging the likelihood that that they had simply watched his final plate look in a Washington Nationals uniform. The identical went for Josh Bell, who lined out in the following at-bat.

Neither look meant a lot in Monday’s 7-3 loss to the New York Mets, however they may imply way more by Tuesday’s 6 pm trade deadline. Soto knew it, too — throughout a pitching change later in the inning, he tipped his helmet to the followers earlier than heading into the dugout.

“I’m controlling what I can management,” Soto mentioned. “Just going on the market and enjoying exhausting for these followers on the market. Because like [the fans] had been saying, they love me. So I’m going to love them again.”

Back in the fourth, Soto hit his twenty first dwelling run of the season — off former teammate Max Scherzer. He took his time rounding the bases and touching dwelling plate. He walked to the dugout as the followers stood behind him and clapped a bit longer to savor the second.

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Scherzer absolutely understood Soto’s scenario all too nicely: He spent six-plus years with Washington earlier than being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Trea Turner ultimately yr’s deadline, a transfer that despatched the 2019 World Series champions right into a rebuilding section.

Scherzer’s presence on the mound was one other reminder of how a lot a company can change this time of yr. Nine extra innings handed Monday evening, and Soto and Bell had been nonetheless with the Nationals. But lots may change in the approaching hours.

At the trade deadline final yr, the Nationals had been 47-55. After Monday’s loss, they’re 35-69 — the worst document in the majors. They’re 31 video games behind the first-place Mets in the National League East.

Soto and Bell bought to Scherzer in the primary inning — with the assistance of some poor protection. Soto labored a full rely, two-out stroll, then Bell doubled down the correct subject line. Initially, it appeared that will put runners on second and third, however proper fielder Starling Marte threw the ball to second — the place no teammate was current. Soto dashed dwelling and Bell superior to third — there was no Met protecting that base, both — as Washington grabbed the lead.

Soto would face Scherzer two extra instances, homering after which strolling in the fifth. In each at-bat, he did his signature shuffle and stared Scherzer down.

“[Scherzer] do not prefer it,” Soto mentioned with a smile. “He places his face down. … He does not need to take a look at me. And I perceive him as a result of he is doing his job. And he is giving one hundred pc — it does not matter how good our relationship is.”

Soto flashed his arm when he threw out Tomás Nido on the plate to finish a second inning that would’ve been worse for starter Patrick Corbin, who was laboring. Despite Soto’s contributions, New York nonetheless led 3-1.

Washington completed with simply six hits. Following Soto’s dwelling run in the fourth, Luis García singled dwelling Yadiel Hernandez to make it 4-3. Bell, a pending free agent, completed 1 for 4, however Soto’s remaining line was becoming if it was his final recreation as a National: 1 for 1 with three walks, two runs and that 421-foot blast.

“Facing a man like Max, he had nice at-bats,” Manager Dave Martinez mentioned. “Kept the ball in the zone, fouled off some good pitches, bought a ball to hit and hit it far.”

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Is anybody used to seeing Scherzer pitch for the Mets? The Nationals and Mets have confronted off 11 instances this season, however this was solely Washington’s second glimpse of Scherzer. The sight of their former ace enjoying for a division rival nonetheless does not really feel regular to Martinez.

“It’s nonetheless bizarre,” he mentioned earlier than the sport. “When you see him, you sort of reminisce in your head. But then I mentioned: ‘Okay, we bought to go on the market and check out to beat this man. Let’s work out how to do this.’ “

How did Corbin fare? He threw 90 pitches and allowed 4 runs in 4⅓ innings. He was coming off his worst outing of the season — he did not make it out of the primary inning towards the Dodgers on Wednesday — however he was ready to retire the aspect in order to begin Monday’s recreation.

But his subsequent two innings appeared lots like what Nationals followers have change into accustomed to over the previous two-plus seasons. In the second, the Mets scored three runs on 5 hits and a stroll, with Soto’s help lastly stopping the bleeding.

Pete Alonso hit a 110.9-mph bullet off Corbin in the following inning that simply cleared the wall in left-center for his twenty seventh dwelling run. It took Corbin 24 pitches to get out of a scoreless fourth, and after he retired Francisco Lindor for the primary out of the fifth, his evening was full. His ERA rose barely to 6.57, and his document fell to 4-15.

Lindor’s three-run homer off Steve Cishek in the sixth put the sport away.

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