Juan Soto appears to have found his offensive rhythm.
The proof is in the numbers.
After a strong four-game series on the road against the Atlanta Braves, Soto ripped a key solo home run in the Washington Nationals’ 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.
The Nationals will look for their second straight victory in this three-game series on Saturday.
Soto homered twice and had four hits, six RBIs and four walks against the Braves.
Soto also appeared to stare down Phillies starter Zack Wheeler after the home run. Many in the crowd of more than 15,000 could be heard shouting at Soto when he went out to play right field.
“Every time we’re on the road, I know I get a lot of stuff in right field,” Soto said. “I just try to pay attention to the game. Sometimes they just make me laugh. I don’t care what they say. I just really concentrate on the game. I just try to enjoy the game and do whatever I can. Every negative comment, I just try to put it out of my head and just keep it focused on the game.”
The Nationals will send Joe Ross (2-5, 5.40 ERA) to the mound for his 11th start. Ross gave up three hits and four runs in five innings in his last start against the Braves on May 31.
“It felt really good,” Ross said of his last start. “I felt like I was a little more back on track than the last couple games and fastball felt good, had some good sliders, only threw a couple changeups, but some of them I felt pretty good about. So it is what it is, but overall, I felt good about how I threw the ball.”
For Ross’ career against the Phillies, he’s 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in six games, four starts.
One game after scoring 17 runs on the road against the Cincinnati Reds, the Phillies’ offense stalled against Max Scherzer.
The Phillies managed only six hits, and Andrew McCutchen was the lone player with two hits.
Still, the Phillies refuse to be fazed by their inconsistent play, especially with Bryce Harper (wrist) and Didi Gregorius (elbow) still out of the lineup.
“We have so much baseball left ahead of us,” Alec Bohm said. “You think back to the Nationals team that won the World Series. They didn’t have a very good record at this point. That’s a team that got healthy and took off. It’s not about how you start; it’s about how you finish.
“We’ve struggled the first couple months,” Bohm added. “We haven’t played our best baseball, but so what? We’ve got about 100 games or more left. Let’s attack those ones and not worry about the ones that are behind us.”
Spencer Howard (0-1, 5.56 ERA) will make his third start of the season for the Phillies. Howard has a 3.86 ERA in the previous two starts.
Howard has one career start against the Nationals, giving up five hits and two runs in five innings last season (3.60 ERA).
Howard’s velocity has been an issue this season as it has dropped significantly after the first few innings.
“I don’t think it’s still exactly where I want to be, but it’s trending in the right direction,” Howard said.
Howard believes that changing his pregame meal routine has helped.
“Just eating more and eating closer to the game,” he said. “Talking to the starters, the other guys, I realized I kind of shut it down a couple of hours before the game and that’s exactly what not to do.”
–Field Level Media