SAN DIEGO (AP) — Juan Soto of the San Diego Padres came to bat against his former team, the Washington Nationals, with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning of a tie game. The sellout crowd of 41,820 anticipated something big from its new superstar.
It didn’t happen. Soto went down swinging on a 96 mph sinker from Victor Arano and slammed his bat and helmet to the ground.
That’s the kind of night it was as the Nationals, who have the worst record in the majors, won 3-1 against the Padres, who are scrapping to hold on to the NL’s third wild-card spot.
Nelson Cruz drew a bases-loaded walk off Josh Hader to bring in the go-ahead run with one out in the ninth inning on a night when there wasn’t much offense.
The big at- bat was Soto against Arano.
“It was motivational to face a hitter of that kind of caliber and able to get the job done,” Arano said through an interpreter. “I was very excited and happy to do so.”
Manager Dave Martinez said that at-bat “was a little bit trying. I was sweating a little bit. They’ve got so many good hitters in that lineup. Our pitchers have got to work. For them to come in here and do what they did, they did a great job tonight.”
Hader relieved Yu Darvish (10-7) with the game tied at 1 after the right-hander allowed two singles sandwiched around the first out in the ninth. Hader, obtained from Milwaukee on Aug. 1, hit Luke Voit with a pitch to load the bases and then walked Cruz. Keibert Ruiz followed with a sacrifice fly.
The teams staggered through the game without much offense in their fourth meeting since their blockbuster trade on Aug. 2 that sent Soto and Josh Bell to San Diego for a package of players that included Voit. The Padres had just three hits and the Nationals had just six, three of them in the ninth.