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Solis adjusting nicely to new role in Nats pen

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Solis adjusting nicely to new role in Nats pen

PHOENIX — When he was called up two weeks ago to make his major-league debut, Sammy Solis immediately checked out the Nationals’ upcoming schedule and couldn’t help but notice the next road trip he’d make: Phoenix and San Diego, his hometown and his college town.

“It’s the road trip of a lifetime for me,” the left-hander said before Monday evening’s series opener against the Diamondbacks. “I’m here at home. I had breakfast with my parents and grandparents this morning. And then I get to travel to San Diego and see my college buddies. It’s exciting.”

If only Solis could have waited one more day to achieve a major milestone and earn his first career win in Arizona instead of Washington.

“No, it doesn’t matter to me,” he said with a laugh. “The sooner, the better for that.”

Solis crossed that one off the checklist Sunday when he pitched a scoreless top of the eighth against the Braves at Nationals Park and then watched his teammates score three runs in the bottom of the inning en route to a 5-4 victory. The 26-year-old reliever was so excited about the comeback, he didn’t realize what the win meant for him until teammates started walking up to him offering congratulations.

“I had no idea, honestly,” he said. “It didn’t even cross my mind until the game was over. I had no idea. I was just hoping for a win for the team, and then when I found out that I got my first one, it was pretty special.”

These two weeks have been pretty special for Solis, a surprise contributor to the Nationals’ bullpen. A starter since he was taken with the first pitch of the second round of the 2010 draft out of the University of San Diego, he only began working as a reliever last month, with the organization trying to help him advance after several years of arm injuries.

The transition has proven remarkably smooth for Solis. He has yet to allow a run in three appearances totaling six innings, giving up three singles without issuing a walk.

The role may be new, but the formula for success hasn’t changed. Solis possesses a mid-90s fastball and a sharp-breaking curve, but first and foremost he relies on command. And he’s been able to carry that over to the big-league level, throwing 70 percent of his pitches (55-of-79) for strikes so far.

“When it comes down to it, it’s still baseball,” he said. “The bullpen is a little different, and I’m sure I’m still adjusting to that. It’s obviously a little more fast-paced, a little more competitive. The players are obviously a little stronger, a little faster. So adjusting to that was a little different. But I think I’m settling in well. I feel pretty comfortable right now.”

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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.