A team that runs into five outs on the bases doesn’t deserve to win the game.
Yet, when the Nationals walked out of Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, they had a 5-4 victory tucked in their pockets despite running the bases with cement shoes and blindfolds on.
Teenager Juan Soto made up for the blunders on the basepaths with two homers that drove in four runs. The 19-year-old left-handed hitting left fielder hit a three-run homer to left off Sonny Gray in the fourth and reached the seats above the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center in the seventh off Chasen Shreve for what turned out to be the game-winner.
The Nationals’ victory, which was witnessed by 45,030, enabled them to get a split of the two-game interleague series.
After watching Gray go 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his previous two starts, the Yankees were hoping to see the right-hander continue to improve.
While Gray wasn’t awful, he could have been better than the five-inning stint, in which he gave up four runs and seven hits.
At 19 years and 231 days, Soto is the youngest player to hit two homers in one game at either Yankee Stadium since Ken Griffey did it on May 30, 1989, at 19 years, 190 days.
The homer off Shreve was the first run given up by the Yankees’ bullpen in 22 ²/₃ innings.
Ryan Madson surfaced from the Nationals’ bullpen to start the eighth. He walked Didi Gregorius with one out and gave up a ground single to Giancarlo Stanton. Madson got Aaron Hicks swinging for the second out, then killed the scoring threat on Miguel Andujar’s routine fly ball to left.
Greg Bird, who homered in the second inning, opened the seventh with a double into the right-field corner. After Austin Romine fouled off a bunt attempt, his grounder to short didn’t advance Bird. Gleyber Torres, who homered in the fifth, struck out on a check swing.
Nationals manager Dave Martinez opted for lefty Sammy Solis to face Brett Gardner. After Bird moved to third on a wild pitch, Gardner hit a grounder that got away from Solis, but he recovered to throw Gardner out at first and strand Bird.
When Gray needed 34 pitches to get through the first inning, when he gave up a run, it looked like the right-hander would be swallowed early by a deep pitch count.
Instead, Gray turned a 4-4 score over to Shreve to start the sixth. Shreve worked a perfect inning with help from second baseman Torres, who went to the left of second to rob Anthony Rendon of a one-out single.
The 4-3 lead the Nationals grabbed in the fourth inning vanished two pitches into the home fifth when Torres drove a 0-1 pitch off the back wall of the Nationals’ bullpen in left-center off righty Erick Fedde. It was Torres’ 12th homer of the season.
Stanton’s single off Rendon’s glove at third, which scored Aaron Judge in the third inning, stopped a 0-for-22 Yankees streak with runners in scoring position.
The Nationals had four runners make outs on the bases in the first three innings.
Matt Adams opened the second with a single to right in front of Soto walking. Adams was doubled off second when Wilmer Difo lined to Torres for the second out. Then Difo was picked off first by Gray to end the frame.
Adam Eaton was thrown out at second by Gardner attempting to stretch a single into a double in the third. Trea Turner followed with a single, but Gray picked him off first for the final out.