Juan Soto, Nationals hope for clutch hitting vs. Yankees


A visit to Yankee Stadium may be coming at a good time for Juan Soto and the Washington Nationals.

Activated off the injured list Tuesday, Soto was limited to pinch-hitting duties the past three days. However, a trip to an American League ballpark creates an opportunity for the Nationals to use him as a designated hitter Friday when they visit the New York Yankees.

Soto returned Tuesday after being out since April 19 with a strained left shoulder. Because he was not able to play the field, he could only come off the bench to bat, and he went a combined 0-for-3 the Nationals were swept by the visiting Atlanta Braves.

The Nationals hope Soto’s presence for three or four at-bats will help them improve in clutch situations. Washington went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in a 3-2 loss to Atlanta on Thursday and was 1-for-21 in those situations during the series.

“It’s gonna come. It’s gonna come,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Thursday. “We left a lot of guys on base today, but we also hit the ball fairly hard today. It’s just a matter now of staying consistent. These balls will drop and we’ll start scoring some runs.”

Soto, who is hitting .283 with two homers and eight RBIs, likely will man the DH spot as he builds up strength to return to the outfield.

“We’re going to give him some time to get this right so that he feels (like) himself, he feels ready and he goes out there and there’s no hesitation for him to get a ball and have to throw,” Martinez said.

The Yankees want to throw away their Thursday result, when they blew a 3-1 lead and took a 7-4 loss to the Houston Astros, who salvaged the finale of a three-game series. New York saw its five-game winning streak end, but the Yankees are 10-4 since opening the season with 11 losses in their first 17 games.

Giancarlo Stanton homered for the third straight game Thursday. His 12-game hitting streak matches the second longest of his career. Stanton is batting .481 (25-for-52) with six homers and 11 RBIs during the streak to raise his average from .158 to .312.

Despite Stanton’s latest homer and seven effective innings from Gerrit Cole, the Yankees lost for the first time in 14 games when holding a lead through seven. New York reliever Chad Green allowed a go-ahead, three-run homer to Jose Altuve in the eighth inning.

“(Cole) threw seven great innings and we weren’t able to get six outs and close the door,” Green said. “That falls on us. We’ve just got to get better.”

The Yankees may be without Gio Urshela for Friday’s game. Urshela injured his left knee making a diving stop at third base in the eighth inning and was headed for an MRI.

Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin (1-3, 8.10 ERA) will make his second career start at Yankee Stadium. He could have been a Yankee following the 2018 season; New York was willing to offer him five years, but he signed a six-year deal with Washington.

Corbin has pitched better lately, posting a 3.18 ERA in his past three outings after allowing 15 earned runs in his first two starts. He last pitched in a 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins on Saturday, when he allowed two runs in seven innings.

Corbin has a 1.35 ERA in two career starts against the Yankees.

Jameson Taillon (1-2, 5.24 ERA), coming off his first win in two years, will start for New York. On Saturday, the right-hander allowed one run on three hits over five innings in a 6-4 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Taillon is 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four career starts against Washington.

–Field Level Media

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