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Martin optioned to AAA to make room for Cole

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Martin optioned to AAA to make room for Cole

ATLANTA — Needing to clear a spot on their roster for A.J. Cole to make his big-league debut Tuesday night, the Nationals optioned reliever Rafael Martin to Class AAA Syracuse.

Martin, 30, became the odd man out when the Nationals needed to drop someone to account for Cole's promotion, necessitated by Max Scherzer's scratch from his scheduled start against the Braves due to a sprained right thumb.

Scherzer isn't expected to need more than a couple extra days to recover, so a DL move wasn't necessary, but somebody else off the pitching staff needed to be removed from the roster so Cole could be called up.

Martin wound up the choice, based on the fact he just pitched Monday night and the fact he has struggled since his impressive major-league debut two weeks ago in Boston. The right-hander struck out five consecutive batters in that outing at Fenway Park, but was scored upon in each of his three appearances since.

Martin heads back to Syracuse having allowed seven runs (five earned) in five total innings, striking out 11 while walking two and serving up three homers. He came on in relief Monday night and hit Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the rear end on his first pitch, receiving the ire of the Atlanta dugout and a warning from plate umpire Bill Welke. (Simmons had injured Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar with a late, hard slide two innings earlier.)

The Nationals will be a man down in their bullpen for Tuesday's game, but with Cole expected only to make a spot start, he could be optioned back to the minors after the game and the club could promote another reliever before Wednesday's series finale. (Martin cannot be recalled for 10 days, unless he's replacing an injured player.)

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

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.