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Around the NL East: Mets losing skid drops them out of first

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Around the NL East: Mets losing skid drops them out of first

ATLANTA BRAVES

Fresh off a sweep of the Mets, the Braves head to D.C. this week just two games back of the Nationals. They've managed to avoid long dry spells, but haven't exactly gone on a sustained run of winning, either. So if they want to make a legitimate push, taking care of business on the road against an NL East rival would be a good start.

But it appears the Braves will have to do that without their best hitter, as Freddie Freeman is a likely candidate for the disabled list with a right wrist injury. The 25-year-old first baseman, who has fared well against the Nats over the years, did not travel to Washington after he underwent an MRI on Monday. 

MIAMI MARLINS 

We've been talking about Giancarlo Stanton quite a bit in this space over the last few weeks, but the Marlins have another bright spot in their organization who is inching near a return. Phenom pitcher Jose Fernandez continued his minor league rehab assignment Monday at Single-A Jupiter, striking out nine and allowing just four hits over seven innings. It's hard to believe it's been nearly 14 months since the 22-year-old righty dazzled for the Fish before undergoing Tommy John Surgery. His return to the big club won't vault them into contention, but it'll perhaps provide a renewed sense of optimism.

NEW YORK METS  

Thanks to a five game losing streak, the Mets have relinquished their first place lead in the division to the Nats. And as usual, the offense has been the issue; New York has scored just six runs during five-game skid. As good as the starting pitching has been for most of the season, it's clear this lineup as currently constructed probably won't be enough to get this club over the hump.  

So what will GM Sandy Alderson do? There were rumors earlier in the month that he had conversations with the Brewers about potentially acquiring Aramis Ramirez. But is that the answer? The 36-year-old hasn't had a 20-homer season since 2012, and wouldn't exactly be the middle-of-the-order bat the Mets need. It'll be interesting to see if Alderson changes course and decides to go all-in at the trade deadline rather than leaving the roster mostly untouched to see if the lineup can turn things around on its own. 

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES 

When you play in the City of Brotherly Love and have the worst record in baseball, it's only natural that folks will start calling for someone to lose their job. That process is already in full swing in Philly, with fans and local media putting manager Ryne Sandberg and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. squarely in the crosshairs for the team's disappointing season.

The Phillies' tale is a cautionary one for teams that want to keep a group of expensive big name veterans together for several years. They did just that with players like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon and others, and have been stuck with a number of undesirable contracts that other teams don't want to touch in a trade. As a result, you have an aging roster that may not get replenished with young prospects for a long while. 

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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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@MLB

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.