BRONX, NY — Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. hit towering home runs at Yankee Stadium Friday night and the two San Diego Padres admired their majestic second deck shots to right and left in the fifth and sixth innings.
All the Yankees could do is watch as they lost their third straight game, 5-1. For the first time the Yankees have lost three straight at home and Randy Vasquez, the rookie, in his Major League debut will remember that Soto home run.
For the Padres, though, scoring five runs in their last four games points to good signs because Soto and Tatis Jr. are a catalyst to their lineup. Xander Bogarts had another two- hit game with singles in the fifth and ninth innings.
The other catalyst, Manny Machado is recovering from a fracture to his left wrist, another home run and scoring threat that adds to the Padres potent lineup.
But this night in the Bronx was all about Soto (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) and Tatis Jr. (San Pedro De Macoris Dominican Republic). They have a way of tuning out a capacity crowd but those home runs got plenty of cheers from a large contingent of Dominican fans that follow Tatis and Soto in New York and social media.
“A lot of Dominican vibes it was great,” Tatis Jr. said about the cheers he heard after his two-run homer and 8th of the season. “Good compadres in this town… in this place,” he said.
And there were a contingent of fans in right field that jawed at Tatis Jr. He recently returned to the lineup after an 8-game drug suspension.
“It’s loud. It’s New York. You’re going to hear everything,” Tatis said. “You’re just giving a good time to the fans. You’ve just got to learn how to embrace it.”
The Soto two-run homer, his 10th, put the Padres ahead 2-0. Soto has four career home runs at Yankee Stadium and this one matched the hardest one hit in his career (exit velocity 114.1MPH). He is batting .356//504/.690, 15 runs,11 doubles,6 HR’s, 15 RBI in his last 25 games.
“I just hammered that ball,” Soto said. Earlier in his at-bat, Soto fouled a 1-0 cutter off his left knee, and with the count full hit the home run off the same pitch.
The bat flips from both also got some attention, then again every time this duo in the Padres lineup gets hold of their pitch the ball is bound to go out of the ballpark.
Tatis said the home run was a comeback to the fans who jested him when he took his position in right field. But to manager Bob Melvin, Soto and Tatis are difference makers in the lineup.
“It makes you feel good as a team,” Melvin said. “That’s what these guys do. When you see how they change the game so quickly, it just gives you more confidence as a team.”
Bat flips are one thing. Soto and Tatis have mastered the way they celebrate when hitting home runs.In two different innings they made a difference, perhaps the Yankees did not approve but nothing was said and the Padres took the first of three games in the Bronx.
More importantly, as the baseball season approaches Memorial Day, a time when there are indications and direction where teams are headed, San Diego is 24-27, 6-½ games behind the NL West leading Dodgers. Off to a slow start, the Padres were projected with their high payroll to overtake the Dodgers..
The Yankees, slowly getting back to health, continue their inconsistency. Vasquez was called up from Triple-A Scranton to replace the suspended Domingo German, 10-games for using an illegal pitching substance . The Yankees are 30-23, and eight games behind first place Tampa Bay in the AL East.
But with Soto hitting three home runs in his last six games, and Tatis hitting safely in 22 of his 31 games played, the Padres will be a team to watch.
Rich Mancuso Co-Editor and Senior Writer LatinoSports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso.
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