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Nats-Red Sox instant analysis

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Nats-Red Sox instant analysis

Game in a nutshell: After last night's impressive show starring Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, the Nationals once again pounced on the Red Sox and took an early lead. Adam LaRoche's team-leading 10th homer got them on the board, and a three-run fourth off Daisuke Matsuzaka made it 4-0 and spoiled the right-hander's return from Tommy John surgery. Gio Gonzalez was dominant for six innings but got a quick hook after putting two men on in the seventh. Lefty Michael Gonzalez (no relation) then let two inherited runners score on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's laser off the Green Monster. No worries, though, because Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard shut the door on any possible Boston comeback, and in the process ensured yet another series victory for the first-place Nationals.

Hitting highlight: It took them a little while to figure out Matsuzaka, but once the Nationals got to the Red Sox right-hander, they really got to him. During a three-run fourth inning, they put four men on base and hit another ball hard for an out. Most impressively, both Michael Morse and Ian Desmond delivered RBI with base hits to the opposite field. Morse's double was his sixth hit since coming off the disabled, five of them hit to right field. Desmond's subsequent single brought in two more runs and gave him 30 RBI for the season (third-most among all MLB shortstops).

Pitching highlight: No pitcher in baseball has surrendered fewer hits per nine innings this season than Gio Gonzalez, who for six innings today gave up only two clean hits. But the wheels began to fall off in the seventh, and after issuing a one-out walk and then a single, the lefty was done for the day after 98 pitches. Thus continued a somewhat disturbing trend by Nationals starters, who despite their dominance this season are averaging only 6.04 innings per outing. Long-term, they're going to need to go a bit deeper into games.

Key stats: How good has Bryce Harper been at in-game adjustments? He's hitting just .250 in his first at-bat of the game, but he's hitting .394 in all subsequent at-bats against opposing starters.

Up next: Sunday's series finale features another intriguing pitching matchup. Jordan Zimmermann makes his first career start at Fenway, with left-hander Jon Lester on the mound for the Red Sox at 1:35 p.m.

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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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@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.