NEW YORK — Teenage rookie Juan Soto homered twice and drove in four runs, becoming the youngest player in 29 years to go deep in a regular-season game at Yankee Stadium, and the Washington Nationals beat New York 5-4 on Wednesday night.
After getting a game off Tuesday, his first in three-plus weeks as a major leaguer, a refreshed Soto showed exactly why he was rated one of baseball’s best prospects.
The 19-year-old outfielder lofted a three-run homer into the left-field corner off Sonny Gray in the fourth inning to give Washington, shut out in its previous two games, a 4-3 lead. Soto then launched a titanic shot to right-center in the seventh against Chasen Shreve (2-1), putting the Nationals back in front 5-4.
Projected at 436 feet, the drive soared to the back of a standing-room terrace above and beyond the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center. It also ended a 23-inning shutout streak for New York relievers and made Soto (19 years, 231 days old) the youngest player in Nationals history to have a multihomer game.
Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. was 19 years, 190 days old when he homered — also twice — for Seattle at old Yankee Stadium on May 30, 1989. Andruw Jones was 19 as well when he hit two home runs for Atlanta in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series at Yankee Stadium.
Called up from Double-A Harrisburg on May 20, Soto is batting .344 with five homers and 12 RBIs.
New York got a long home run from its own impressive rookie, 21-year-old Gleyber Torres, to tie it at 4 in the fifth. Greg Bird also hit a solo homer and Giancarlo Stanton had three hits for the Yankees, including a two-out RBI single that glanced off the glove of third baseman Anthony Rendon.
Adam Eaton and Matt Adams had three hits apiece for the Nationals, who split the two-game interleague series between World Series contenders. The teams meet again next Monday in Washington to complete a May 15 matchup suspended with the score tied 3-all in the sixth inning and to make up a May 16 rainout.
Justin Miller (4-0) struck out four in 1 2/3 innings to earn the win on his 31st birthday. Sammy Solis knocked down Brett Gardner’s comebacker with a runner on third for the final out of the seventh. Ryan Madson pitched out of trouble in the eighth and Sean Doolittle worked a perfect ninth for his 17th save in 18 chances.
New York lost for only the fifth time in its last 23 home games.
Nationals rookie Erick Fedde allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. Pitching in place of injured ace Stephen Strasburg, the right-hander was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse before the game to make his fifth major league start and second this season.
Washington manager Dave Martinez had no qualms about starting an inexperienced Fedde under the Yankee Stadium spotlight. “Fedde’s a gamer. I don’t know if you recall last time we called him up, his flight got canceled so he had to drive. And he pitched (well). So we got him here early, and hopefully he got enough rest,” Martinez said. To open a roster spot for Fedde, the Nationals optioned reliever Trevor Gott to Triple-A Syracuse. Gott was 0-2 with a 4.96 ERA in 18 appearances.
Nationals: As expected, Bryce Harper was back in the lineup after leaving Tuesday night’s loss in the eighth inning when he was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. The slugger was plunked on the right elbow and left foot but said afterward he was fine and there were “no ill feelings at all.” Washington pitchers made no apparent attempt to retaliate Wednesday. Harper went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. … Daniel Murphy (right knee surgery) was the DH again after going hitless Tuesday in his season debut. “He’s ready to play, so we’re going to play him. Nice to have that bat in the lineup,” Martinez said. Murphy went 0 for 3 with a walk. … Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) is working out back home, Martinez said. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson (strained right hamstring) is still building strength in his hamstring before he starts throwing much off a mound, according to Martinez.
Yankees: Slumping catcher Gary Sanchez sat out for the second consecutive game, with backup Austin Romine catching Gray as usual.
Nationals: After a day off, Washington resumes its AL East road trip in Toronto with LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-2, 2.65 ERA) pitching Friday night against RHP Aaron Sanchez (3-5, 4.33).
Yankees: Still looking for his first major league win, rookie right-hander Domingo German (0-4, 5.32 ERA) starts Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series against Tampa Bay. LHP Blake Snell (8-3, 2.30) goes for the Rays, coming off a three-game sweep of Toronto in which they pitched only relievers. Snell, who made his big league debut at Yankee Stadium in April 2016, is 3-0 with a 0.38 ERA over his last four starts. New York is 15-4 against left-handed starters this season.
By MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer, By Associated Press