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2nd time has been charm for Moore

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2nd time has been charm for Moore

Just about every ballplayer, upon getting promoted to make his big-league debut, tries to insist the game is no different at this higher level of competition than it was at every previous level.

It's not always as easy as it sounds, though, as Tyler Moore found out last month when he first joined the Nationals.

"Yeah, exactly. It is the same game, but also there's a lot of stuff that comes with that game, too," Moore said. "There's a lot more fans. The stadiums are bigger. It makes your adrenaline get up a little more. You just have to learn how to calm yourself down and realize it is a game, and I play the best when I'm calm."

These days, Moore is feeling plenty calm with his surroundings. After struggling during his first big-league stint, he has returned and reasserted himself as a potent offensive player.

After hitting .158 (3-for-19) with seven strikeouts in his first 12 games -- which prompted a demotion to Class AAA Syracuse -- Moore is hitting .471 (8-for-17) with only two strikeouts in six games since rejoining the big-league roster.

"It was of course disappointing to be optioned to Syracuse but at the same time they had to make a move," he said. "I just went down to the minor leagues and got some at-bats and got some repetition back. And then I came back up here and I've had a lot more at-bats than my previous time up here. That helped me a lot, getting more at-bats and seeing more pitches to get back in a rhythm."

Moore has indeed found himself in Davey Johnson's lineup more regularly this time around. He's become a mainstay presence against left-handed starters, either in left field or at first base (where he's playing tonight against Rays lefty Matt Moore).

Johnson sees a different player during this stint, one who appears more comfortable with his surroundings and who has learned how to adapt to more sporadic playing time.

"Just getting over probably a little bit of nervousness," Johnson said. "It's very difficult for a young player who's used to playing every day to get into a rhythm where you feel real confident about seeing the ball and the strike zone. ... In the big leagues, you sometimes try to take the same approach as if you were playing every day."

Another difference has been Moore's approach at the plate; he's not falling behind in the count as much and being forced into using defensive swings (which may in part explain the drop in his strikeout rate).

"I think he came back feeling like he needed to be a little more aggressive," Johnson said of Moore, who crushed 71 home runs over his last 1,121 minor-league at-bats. "He has a great stroke. I love his stroke. He's short to the ball, uses the whole field. He's quiet up there. Once you have some results, it just locks you into that same approach."

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.