Most baseball players would be rusty after a long layoff. Most baseball players are not Juan Soto.
Soto continued his blistering-hot start Wednesday, launching a three-run home run and a solo shot in the Nationals’ loss to the Mets. He also added a single for good measure.
Soto’s first-inning blast off of Robert Gsellman was something to behold. Statcast measured the bomb at 466 feet, which is the longest home run of the 21-year-old’s career (three feet longer than the one he hit Monday). Frankly, it wouldn’t have been a surprise had they announced it as 664 feet.
Soto has now slugged four home runs and driven in nine runs in seven games since being activated from the injured list. He is slugging exactly 1.000.
Remember, this is a guy who missed two weeks of the Nats’ summer camp and then had to sit at home for another week and a half after testing positive for COVID-19. He just played his first game a week ago.
In case you needed to be reminded again how young Soto is, he told the media after Wednesday’s game that he missed his mom. Totes adorbs.
The Nationals finish out a four-game set versus the Mets on Thursday before continuing on their road trip to Baltimore and Atlanta.
Bo Knows Buffalo
The Blue Jays finally got to break in their “new” home in Buffalo this week. The early returns suggest Bo Bichette is a fan of Sahlen Field.
Bichette had the first five-hit game of his young career Wednesday, going 5-for-5 with a home run and a walk as the Jays lost a slugfest to the Marlins, 14-11. He also added a pair of stolen bases (his third and fourth of the season).
Miami jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the contest before Toronto stormed back to tie it on the strength of seven (!) home runs to force extra innings. The Marlins scored three in the 10th to take the win and split the two-game series.
Bichette also went deep in the first game of the series versus the Marlins and in the last game of their weekend set in Boston, giving him longballs in three straight contests. His four home runs this season have come over his last six games, with his OPS jumping from .621 all the way up to 1.034 during that span.
In his first 269 plate appearances in the big leagues, Bichette has put up a .320/.364/.588 batting line with 15 home runs and eight stolen bases.
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Alvarez to Arrive “Very Soon”
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Astros so far this season, but they did get some encouraging news Wednesday on a couple of their stars on the sidelines.
Yordan Alvarez has been on the injured list for over a month for undisclosed reasons, but he’s looked good in intrasquad games of late at the team’s alternate training site and is poised to be activated “very soon,” manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday. Baker went on to add that Alvarez “could be here in a couple of days.”
The Astros entered play Wednesday hitting a disappointing .236/.326/.404 as a team. Jose Altuve has gotten off to a horrible start, George Springer hasn’t been much better and just returned from a five-game absence due to injury. The insertion of Alvarez back in the batting order could provide perhaps the biggest lift, though.
The reigning American League Rookie of the Year, Alvarez had just 369 plate appearances in the big leagues last season but slugged 27 home runs and drove in 78 runs, sporting a .313/.412/.655 batting line along the way. Between the majors and minors in 2019, the 23-year-old hit 50 homers and totaled 149 RBI. Yeah, that will look quite nice back in the cleanup spot.
While the offense could use a lift, the Astros’ pitching staff has been a bigger problem area. Could they be getting their ace back?
Per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Justin Verlander is hoping to resume throwing sometime next week. Verlander has been shut down since straining his right forearm in his first start of the season. McTaggart writes that the veteran right-hander “has been making excellent progress” during the shutdown period.
While it’s undoubtedly good news, Verlander obviously has a long way to go before he’s out of the woods. Even if he does resume a throwing program next week and progresses without any setbacks, he probably wouldn’t be ready to rejoin the rotation until September.
Still, the Astros will take the sliver of sunshine, especially after an initial report said Verlander was done for the season with an elbow injury.
American League Quick Hits: Tim Anderson went 4-for-5 with a solo homer and three runs scored as the White Sox topped the Tigers on Wednesday … Byron Buxton homered twice while going 3-for-5 in a rout for the Twins over the Brewers on Wednesday … Travis Shaw hit his first two homers of the season Wednesday against the Marlins … Aaron Judge was not in the Yankees' lineup Wednesday and is a question mark for Friday because of lower body tightness … Clint Frazier went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double in his season debut Wednesday as the Yankees topped the Braves … Anthony Rendon homered for the third straight game Wednesday in the Angels' loss to the Athletics … Roberto Osuna will attempt to rehab his elbow injury rather than undergo Tommy John surgery … DJ LeMahieu had four more hits Wednesday to raise his average on the season to .431 … Salvador Perez went 3-for-5 with a homer, a double and three RBI against the Reds on Wednesday … Austin Nola homered and doubled in a loss to the Rangers on Wednesday … Brandon Lowe went 3-for-5 with a homer, two RBI and three runs scored in a win over the Red Sox on Wednesday … Taijuan Walker allowed just an unearned run over six innings with five strikeouts on Wednesday versus Texas … Brad Keller shut out the Reds for six innings to earn a victory Wednesday … Andrew Benintendi landed on the injured list Wednesday with a ribcage strain … Zack Greinke was able to limit the Giants to one run over 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven along the way in a win Wednesday … Blake Snell blanked the Red Sox over five innings with six strikeouts in the Rays' victory on Wednesday.
National League Quick Hits: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that calling up Dylan Carlson is one of the moves the Cardinals have planned when they're cleared to resume play … Ronald Acuna has been ruled out through the weekend after being diagnosed with inflammation in his left wrist … Nolan Arenado swatted a pair of solo home runs and added an RBI double Wednesday against the Diamondbacks … Pete Alonso homered, doubled twice, drove in three runs and walked as the Mets defeated the Nationals on Wednesday … Kris Bryant homered in Wednesday’s win over the Indians before being removed due to a wrist injury … Starling Marte homered and drove in four runs as the Diamondbacks out-slugged the Rockies on Wednesday … Corey Seager (back) didn’t play again Wednesday but was a full participant in baseball activities prior to the game … Zach Eflin fanned 10 batters but yielded four runs across six frames in a loss to the Orioles … Will Smith was lifted from Wednesday's game against the Padres and will sit out Thursday due to a sore neck … Austin Slater was unavailable to play Wednesday due to sore right elbow … Keone Kela (COVID-19) will be activated ahead of Thursday evening's game against the Reds and is expected to move back into the Pirates’ closer role.