Nationals

Nationals

In lieu of real, live baseball games being played, Major League Baseball has turned to the world of video games to entertain its fans.

For the next few weeks, players from all 30 teams are competing in MLB The Show: Players League, with one player representative per franchise playing as themselves and facing everyone in a round robin tournament.

The games are just three innings - unless it goes to extras - and players play four games per night. Games can be viewed on each player's Twitch page.

The Nationals' representative is Juan Soto, which makes sense when you consider younger players are more likely to be good at video games, generally speaking.

One of Soto's opponents Monday night had connection problems, so he only ended up playing three games. Here's how he did.

Opponent: Gavin Lux (Dodgers)

"If I beat Soto he’s got to teach me how to do the Soto shuffle," Lux said on his own stream, starting the trash talk early. "It’s only right."

Soto, hoping to split up the left-handed hitters, moved himself down to cleanup for the Nationals. In the top of the first inning, Howie Kendrick doubled off the wall off Walker Buehler, but was thrown out after running past second base.

Soto, who kept referring to himself as "Juan!" during the game, exuded a lot of patience at the plate - unsurprising, given his keen batting eye in real life. It helped him leading off the second inning when he hit a home run to take the lead. The player he hit the home run with? That would be Juan Soto, of course.

 

He considered pinch-hitting for Scherzer later in the inning, but left him in. Mad Max roped a single, but the runner was thrown out at home to end the inning.

The young star entered the bottom of the final inning up 1-0, but allowed a long home run to Will Smith to tie it, and a sacrifice fly to Max Muncy to drop the game, 2-1.

A tough loss, but Soto quickly turned his attention to his next opponent.

Opponent: David Dahl (Rockies)

To mix things up, Soto switched the lucky navy blue jerseys worn throughout the team's run to the 2019 World Series title.

Soto once again batted the pitcher eighth, this time Stephen Strasburg, and once again had to debate pulling him in a crucial situation. He also showed he still has a lot to learn on the basepaths, losing his third runner on the bases in just four innings during the night.

He went 2-2 as himself, making him perfect at the plate as Soto through the first two games. Of course, he did not trust his own speed to score from second on a single.

Once again, while leading, Soto allowed a home run, this time to former National Daniel Murphy. Trea Turner put the Nats back on top after a leadoff triple, scoring on a very, very short sacrifice fly.

For Soto's second plate appearance, Dahl brought in a lefty, at which point Soto joked about pinch-hitting for himself. He stayed in, beating the shift for a cheap double.

Then, unfortunately, he allowed a two-run, walk-off home run to Trevor Story. Two road games, two walk-off losses for Soto, who could only say, "Come on bullpen, come on."

Hey, it wouldn't be the Nationals if they didn't go down in the standings early.

Opponent: Josh Hader (Brewers)

Finally playing at home, Soto faced Josh Hader and the Brewers (sound familiar, Nats fans?) in his final game of the night.

He got things going early with a long Howie Kendrick bomb, to which Soto started singing "This is Howie do it!"

In his only plate appearance of the game, Soto worked a full count - highlighted by his own Soto shuffle in both the game and real-life - and then hit a home run of his own.

All he could say after that? "And now we dance," as he started dancing himself on camera.

The 2-0 lead would prove to be enough, as the rest of the game went by quickly. This time, Daniel Hudson and the bullpen clinched the victory for Soto, and the Nats are in the win column for the first time.

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