Juan Soto‘s patience at plate sets up Michael Taylor‘s game-winning hit for Nationals

By David Driver — Special to The Washington Times – – Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Another day, another memory for rookie phenom left fielder Juan Soto of the Nationals.

All of 19 years young, Soto walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth and then scored the winning run on a double by Michael A. Taylor as the Nationals beat the last-place 2-1 on Tuesday night.

In his first three days in the majors, Soto has made his big league debut on Sunday, hit a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw as a starter Monday and then drew three walks and scored the walkoff winner on Tuesday.

What is next for Soto, who also had a single and reached base all four times?

“Just keep working,” said Soto, standing his locker which still does not have his nameplate above it.

Soto’s reputation is growing quickly.

The didn’t bring lefty reliever Matt Strahm (0-2) into facing lefty swinging Bryce Harper with the game tied in the eighth.

Instead, Strahm entered in the ninth and gave lefty swinger Soto nothing to hit.

“Be patient and see my pitch,” Soto said.

“He has the green light,” manager Dave Martinez said of Soto, who took a 3-0 pitch for ball four in the ninth.

Wilmer Difo then grounded out on a possible double play ball before Taylor got the winning hit to score Soto from second after a foul pop hit by Taylor was not caught down the right field line.

Taylor nearly hit the ball over the fence in center in the ninth, after striking out his first two trips to the plate.

“Just try to relax,” said Taylor, hitting .190 this season. “The usual. Don’t try to do too much. I am just working a lot in the cage” before games.

“It was huge. Not just for Michael but for our team,” Martinez said.

Washington closer Sean Doolittle (2-2), who fanned all three batters he faced in the top of the ninth, was the winning pitcher.

The Nationals (26-21) got a break in the top of the sixth when a video review challenge wiped out a RBI single by Franmil Reyes that would have given the a 2-1 lead. Instead, Jose Pirela, who had doubled, was ruled out at the plate on a laser-like throw from Taylor in center field to end the inning.

“This was Michael’s day,” Martinez said. “He made a perfect throw” to catcher Pedro Severino.

Martinez said Taylor’s throw to home was clocked about 98 miles per hour.

“If we need someone to pitch, it would be Michael,” Martinez said with a grin.

Bryce Harper, hitting .184 in his previous 30 games, blasted a solo homer to center to tie the game at 1-1 in the fifth.

It was the second home run in as many games for Harper and his 15th of the season tops the National League.

The took a 1-0 lead as Franchy Cordero hit a solo home run in the fourth against Nationals starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Nationals starters have gone 22 games in a row without allowing more than three earned runs.

The series concludes Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. with right-hander Tyson Ross (3-3, 3.35) making the start. He is the brother of Joe Ross, a pitcher in the Nationals system who is on the disabled list.

Washington did not name a pitcher after Tuesday’s game, but all signs point to right-hander Erick Fedde, who started on Friday for Triple-A Syracuse. He made three starts last season for the Nationals as a rookie.

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