Juan Soto and the Nationals continue to fight and lose to the Brewers

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MILWAUKEE – No team-wide drop comes down to one player. There are nine in each lineup. There are some more on the bench. In any season, there will be times when the zeros pile up, one after the other, and each hard-hit ball appears to be swallowed by a glove.

It is normal and expected. But what’s the buzz for the Washington Nationals – the club that dropped another game on Saturday, 5-1 to Milwaukee Brewers – is how Juan Soto does not hide their offensive problems or even overshadow them a bit. At the moment, the 23-year-old star is right in the middle of the action.

Soto finished 0 for 3 with a walk in this defeat, and started a double play. His batting average dropped to .245. His on-base-plus-slugging percentage, .850, reflects that he still leads the major leagues by 33 walks. He has eight homers, the last coming at the end of a loss to the New York Mets on May 12th. He looks frustrated and not himself.

“I felt a little weird,” Soto said. “I’ve been working a lot on my swing and trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s pretty hard to get back to where it was. I’ve seen my videos and all that. But that’s what it is. Right now I’ve just been up and down. ”

Box score: Brewers 5, Nationals 1

As a team, the Nationals (13-28) have scored two or fewer races in eight of their last 11 competitions. They are 3-8 in that stretch, pushing them deeper into last place in the National League East. And since Washington began this seven-game roadtrip, which could end with a sweep at American Family Field on Sunday, Soto is 2 for 16 with a double and five times. Brandon Woodruff was the latest starter to keep him quiet, aided by Mike Brosseau, who jumped after a 95-mph liner from Sotos bat in sixth.

Based on the rest of Soto’s four-year career, this will soon be over. Advanced measurements predict a return to top-of-the-line production. Soto has admitted that his timing is a bit off, that he is chasing more lanes than usual, that he has missed a few chances to punish errors in the middle of the zone. On Saturday, for example, Soto got a dead-center fastball from Woodruff and bumped out in the middle. When he hit a dribbler back to Woodruff for a rally-killing double play, it was on a switch off the plate.

These are seats that Soto typically crushes or takes. So it’s confusing that far into May he has so often been in the middle of the extremes.

“We need to get him to stay in midfield and not hunt,” said manager Dave Martinez, speaking of the player who had the majors’ lowest hunting rate by a wide margin in 2021. “Be a little more aggressive in strike action. zone, but also do not get away from who he is.And it is to take his turns and stay in the middle of the field.

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How did starter Patrick Corbin beat? He started badly, was sharp in the middle lap and withered in the fifth. It resulted in a streak of five frames, eight hits, five deserved runs, a walk and three strikeouts in 79 places. Andrew McCutchen started the night by crushing Corbins first pitch, a middle sinker, for a solo homer. The next three batters totaled two singles and a sacrificial run to bump Brewers (26-14) ahead by two runs.

From there, Corbin discarded 13 of the 15 batteries he encountered between the first and the fifth. Groundballs was his friend with Keibert Ruiz behind the plate. But after he quickly got two outs in the fifth, Luis Urías stalked a fastball on the first pitch and ran it over the wall in the right-center. The next two batter, Christian Yelich and Hunter Renfroe, hit singles, with Renfroe rolling his against the switch and through a wide open right side. Then Keston Hiura broke the score with a two-run single to the left and pulled a first-pinch sinker.

“They were trying to grab him. You saw it right from the first dough,” Martinez said of the Brewers, who chased early counting fastballs. “A lot of first-pitch, a lot of first-pitch hits. I looked at him and he made the pitches he needed. The only one was the one who was going to [Huira]. … I know he’s trying [stay] down there and the ball was a little up. I told him I really believe he throws the ball much better.

Didn’t Riley Adams catch each of Corbin’s last four starts? Yes, and five of the previous six by Saturday. But as the attack battled, Martinez went with Ruiz, who came in with the most hits (31) and second-highest OPS (.726) among catchers with at least 120 record appearances. In addition, Adams played Friday night against left-hander Eric Lauer, making it so that pairing him with Corbin again would have meant he would have to sit Ruiz two games in a row.

Do not expect much to happen this season, if at all. Opposite right Woodruff knocked Ruiz out and looked into the second – a rarity for him – before extending the fourth with a single to the right. In his third stroke, Ruiz went against reliever Brad Boxberger in the seventh before César Hernández struck out to swing to strand the bases full. Ruiz, a switch-hitter, later added a single from left-winger Hoby Milner in the ninth. He reached three times after doing so in all five of his record appearances against the Miami Marlins on Wednesday. Lane Thomas (solo homer and single), Dee Strange-Gordon (two singles) and Nelson Cruz (single and catcher’s interference) reached twice.

What’s the next step in Ehire Adrianza’s rehabilitation? After recently playing seven innings in a simulated game, Adrianza was soon able to begin a rehab mission with one of Washington’s subsidiaries. The 32-year-old utility man has been out of action with a left quadriceps injury since late April. When the Nationals signed him for a year and $ 1.5 million this offseason, they were hoping for a solid backup on second, shortstop, third and left field. Adrianza’s return is likely to lead to Dee Strange-Gordon being appointed to the post. It could also mean fewer reps for Maikel Franco, who has started as number three in every single one of Washington’s matches.

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