Monday’s meetings between the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees were already strange. However, Juan Soto took strange to another level.
The two teams were supposed to play two games on May 15th and 16th, but the weather intervened. The May 15 game actually started but was suspended in the sixth inning due to thunderstorms. They tried to finish the game the next day, but again, weather prevented it. That meant that the teams had one and a half games to fit in at some point in their schedule. Given that this was inter-league play there would not be another natural opportunity to fit this in.
Therefore, the MLB had to fit the game in and chose Monday as the date. The Yankees played at home against Tampa Sunday, flew to Washington to play Monday, before returning to New York to host Seattle Tuesday. Washington was in Toronto Sunday and will host Baltimore Tuesday. As I said, it was all a little strange.
In the original game on May 15, the Nationals led 3-0 and even led 3-2 in the fifth. Had they remained in the lead after four and a half innings, the game would have been official. However, Tyler Austin, who had driven in two runs with a home run in the fourth, added his third RBI in the fifth to tie the game up. That meant that when the thunderstorms came, the game would be suspended and concluded the next day. However, as I have said, that did not happen.
The Juan Soto Story
Juan Soto was not in the major leagues on May 15. In fact, not many people were even talking about him being in the major leagues. On that night in May, he was going 3-for-4 at Double-A. Soto was then somewhat surprisingly called up to the majors on the 20th of May. Soto made his debut May 20, as a pinch hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers, before getting his first start May 21, against the San Diego Padres. He managed to homer in that first major league start and has gone from strength to strength since then.
Back in Time?
However, a weird twist to the career of Juan Soto occurred Monday night. Soto was eligible to play in the resumption of the game, despite not being on the roster the day the game was started. Officially, he was a pinch hitter in the sixth inning. Technically all stats for this game will be attributed to May 15, despite the game being completed over a month later. So when Soto homered in his pinch-hit appearance in the sixth inning, records were somewhat re-written. By date of the game started, this was Soto’s first major league at-bat, meaning he homered in his first at-bat over a month after he homered in his first start. Confusing right? Officially, the May 20 home run will remain Soto’s first major league home run, but records will always show he homered on May 15 for seemingly the first time.
When Soto made his original debut, he was the youngest player in the major leagues but that has not stopped him being incredible. Since he was called up Soto has six homers, one steal and a .325 batting average in 95 plate appearances.
The Final Word
The story of Soto is not the only anomaly here. As Jamal Collier of MLB.com points out, there are a number of strange footnotes to this game. Tyler Austin drove in all three of the Yankees runs in the game, despite being in Triple-A the day the game concluded. Adam Eaton played, having had foot surgery five days earlier, and Greg Bird was playing in a rehab game the day the game began.
However, all of those feel very insignificant compared to the Soto story. The young hitter has impressed in the major leagues since his debut. Now he has a neat and quirky story to add to a so-far great debut season.