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Storen regaining his edge

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Storen regaining his edge

NEW YORK -- Davey Johnson has tried his best to ease Drew Storen back from elbow surgery, not wanting to put too much on the right-hander too soon.

But during this week's series against the Mets, the Nationals manager found himself needing a quality reliever to face the red-hot David Wright in a couple of key spots. So the call was made to Storen, who may not be throwing many pitches right now but is certainly throwing important pitches.

Storen threw only six total pitches in the series. All were to Wright during two encounters. And each time, the young reliever retired the New York slugger.

"No better way to get yourself in shape than to face a guy like that, especially in big spots," he said. "Like I said the other day, just kind of keep adding the pressure of facing the same guy. It's pretty fun, to be honest with you, to face a really good hitter like that and have a battle like that with the game on the line. Can't really ask for much more than that."

On Monday night, Storen replaced starter Jordan Zimmermann for the bottom of the seventh inning, with the Nationals clinging to a 2-1 lead and Wright leading off. He threw all of two pitches, both 93 mph fastballs, the first one nearly taking Wright's head off before he got him to fly out to center field.

Then on Wednesday afternoon, Storen was summoned for a tenser situation: Two outs, two runners in scoring position, Wright at the plate representing the tying run.

This time, Storen started the slugger off with three straight sliders. He fell behind in the count 2-0, got Wright to look at a strike on the inside corner and then jammed him with a 95 mph fastball, inducing a groundball to third base.

He pounded his glove and let out a jubilant scream as Ryan Zimmerman made the throw to first to retire Wright and end the inning, perhaps his first truly big out since late last season.

At last, Storen is starting to feel like himself again.

"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "And that's what those situations, that's what's going to get me back. Faced an unbelievable hitter on the road in a big spot, with a sweep on the line, protecting a great performance by Stephen Strasburg."

Johnson didn't want to have to use Storen at all during the game, not after he pitched Monday and then warmed up in the bullpen Tuesday.

"I'm trying to jump start him a little, to get back to where he was," the manager said. "But he told me he was OK, and that was a situation I needed him badly. And he came in and worked on his breaking ball. So he's awful close."

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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.