Baseball lore suggests participating in the Home Run Derby messes up your swing.
Juan Soto of the Nationals actually credits the derby for his sudden surge.
Soto has been on fire since participating in last Monday’s event and will look to continue that streak when the Nationals host the Marlins in game two of their three-game series Tuesday night.
“I just feel so much better now,” Soto said. “I was thinking about it, and (the derby) helped me a little bit get that feeling of how to put the ball in the air and everything. I tried everything I could in the first half, and the ball still was going to the ground.”
On Monday night, Soto smacked his fourth and fifth home runs in the four games since the break and drove in five runs in Washington’s 18-1 win. He is hitting .588 with 11 RBIs and eight runs scored in that stretch.
“It just makes everybody better,” manager Dave Martinez said of Soto’s surge. “It picks everybody up. And it stretches out our lineup tremendously. He’s swinging the bat well, and he’s hitting the ball all over the field very hard.”
With Joe Ross still battling right elbow inflammation, Washington right-hander Paolo Espino (2-2, 3.33 ERA) will start. He last pitched in Friday’s 24-8 loss to the Padres, allowing three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings. His last start came on July 9 against the Giants, when he allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Espino is 0-0 with an 11.25 ERA in two career meetings with the Marlins, including a two-inning appearance on this season on June 25, when he allowed two runs, one earned, and three hits.
All-Star left-hander Trevor Rogers (7-6, 2.31) faces the Nationals for the second time this season — and his career. On May 2, he took the loss, giving up three runs on four hits over five innings.
In his last start, the rookie gave up three runs — two earned — in four innings of a loss to the Braves. He struck out a season-low four batters and walked two.
“I was battling myself all day,” Rogers said. “Wasn’t attacking the strike zone really at all, was battling from behind, made a few good pitches. But my secondary stuff wasn’t there today. I really just had to battle and just really minimize damage as best I could.”
Rogers hasn’t completed six innings in any of his past four starts.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly will be looking for some innings after the team suffered its worst loss of the season. Miami trailed 10-0 after two, and the only bright spot was Miguel Rojas, who went 3-for-4 with a homer.
“We kind of survived the game,” Mattingly said after the team held a post-game meeting. “This isn’t an easy one to wash off, honestly but we’re going to be ready to go tomorrow.”
Trea Turner, Josh Bell, Tres Barrera and pitcher Jon Lester also homered for Washington. More importantly for Lester and the Nationals’ fortunes going forward, he threw seven scoreless innings, allowing six hits while striking out seven without a walk. He’d gone five innings or fewer in each of his past four starts.
“I’m just glad I was able to pitch some innings,” he said.
Prior to the game, the Marlins placed infielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. (left shoulder contusion) and infielder/outfielder Garrett Cooper (left elbow strain) on the 10-day injured list after the pair sustained injuries Sunday in Philadelphia.
Mattingly said outfielder Starling Marte, who sat out after tweaking his shoulder while sliding on Sunday, could return Tuesday.
–Field Level Media