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Phillies' Howard voices frustration with defensive shifts

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Phillies' Howard voices frustration with defensive shifts

Unfortunately for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, defensive shifts were essentially designed for guys like him. He has a big, left-handed swing with power to the right side of the field and he rarely pokes a single to left. Put a shift on him, and you're bound to run into some outs.

That's what happened on Wednesday night when the St. Louis Cardinals put a shift on Howard and saw him hit right into it three times. Afterwards Howard was asked about shifts and did not hold back in sharing his frustration.

Here is what he told MLB.com:

"No, I don't like it at all... it's nothing that I'm doing wrong, I'm hitting the ball hard. It's just right at guys playing shifts. So, all you can do is continue to swing."

Howard had a solo homer in the Phillies' 5-2 loss to St. Louis, but was retired on three balls hit to Kolten Wong who was shifted towards the first base line. Wong himself says he can reason with Howard, given how well the shift worked.

"At some point, you kind of feel bad because he hits two line drives and a ground ball right at me," Wong said.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred floated the idea of banning shifts before this season and was criticized by many for doing so. Given the negative reaction, one has to wonder if he will continue to push for the change. Many disagreed when he first proposed it, though, we now know he would at least have Howard in his corner.

[Via HardballTalk]

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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.