Juan Soto returns to Washington on Tuesday when the slumping San Diego Padres open a three-game series against his former team, the Nationals.
It will be Soto’s second trip back since the Nationals traded the outfielder, and first-baseman Josh Bell, to San Diego for six players, including left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore and shortstop CJ Abrams.
The 24-year-old Gore (3-3, 3.69 ERA), San Diego’s top prospect at one time, is scheduled to be on the mound in the series opener to face the Padres for the first time since the trade.
Gore is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA over his past four starts. In his most recent outing, he took the loss Wednesday against the Miami Marlins after allowing four runs on five hits — including a two-run homer by Jorge Soler — over 5 1/3 innings.
“His location was a little bit off, but his stuff is good,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He couldn’t get his breaking balls over quite as much as he normally does. Slider wasn’t there tonight. He left a couple of balls out over the plate and they took advantage of it.”
The Padres enter off a 7-0 win against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday but have lost nine of their past 11 games and sit fourth in the National League West. San Diego has been plagued by an inability to bring home baserunners, hitting a major league worst .189 with runners in scoring position.
On Sunday they went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, but that one hit was a bases-loaded three-run double by Rougned Odor in the first inning and the Padres never looked back.
“It was like coming out of a cave finally,” the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. said. “We’ve been scuffling. We’ve been having trouble. Just glad it happened.”
Designated hitter Matt Carpenter added a two-run homer in the third inning for San Diego, which opens a nine-game road swing that will also include series against the New York Yankees and Marlins.
“At some point you’ve got to stop the bleeding and have a game like today,” Carpenter said. “We can build off some of that momentum we created and get on a tear like we know that we’re capable of.”
Padres right-hander Yu Darvish (2-3, 3.56) is scheduled to start in the series opener. In his last outing, Darvish gave up four runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Kansas City Royals. The 36-year-old is 1-2 with a 4.62 ERA in four career starts versus the Nationals.
Washington brings a two-game winning streak into the opener after pounding out 18 hits and holding on for 6-4 win at home against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Back-up catcher Riley Adams had four hits including a homer, two doubles and a single for the Nationals, who led 6-1 after three innings and held on for the victory.
Ildemaro Vargas also homered and Jeimer Candelario had four singles for Washington on an unusual day when Martinez started three backups – including Adams and Vargas – and brought in late-inning reliever Kyle Finnegan to pitch out of a six-inning jam after Detroit began clawing back.
“For me, it was a big turning point right there,” Martinez said of Finnegan’s performance. “They had momentum, and we had to stop the fire.”
–Field Level Media