The Nationals easily dropped the San Diego Padres 10-2 on a night when 19-year-old Juan Soto launched the first homer of his career, which also was his first Major League hit only in his second overall at-bat.
The club belted four homers, two of them by veteran Mark Reynolds, who has played in 1,528 more games than Soto.
What a find Reynolds has been for the Nats. Unsigned as the season began, he finally inked a free agent deal with the Nats April 17 and reported to Triple-A Syracuse.
Following the news that Ryan Zimmerman had been placed on the 10-day disabled disabled list, Reynolds joined the Nats May 12. Since his arrival he has raked. Monday night against San Diego he went 3-for-4 with a single and two homers. That was exactly what he did in his Nats debut May 13 at Arizona: two homers and a single.
Reynolds’ multi-homer performance was his 27th of his career. He is hitting .444 (8-for-18) through six games with the Nationals.
Manager Davey Martinez is not surprised.
“For me, if you watched him over the last few years, he’s had unbelievable years in the last few years -- his batting average, his on-base percentage, his home runs, driving in runs, everything,” Martinez said. “I’m really happy we were able to sign him and get him here. Took some injuries, but he’s here now. He’s making the most out of his playing time and helping us win games. I love it. He’s another guy who’s good to have around, veteran guy, knows the game. Guys feed off him.”
He has been a Nationals player for a little over 30 days. He didn’t start games for Syracuse until May 1. Reynolds said that playing in only 10 games in the minors might have been a good thing.
“At least I didn’t get into any bad habits,” Reynolds smiled. “Yeah, I mean a little bit. I felt alright down at Triple-A. But you get an extra jolt of adrenaline and you care a lot more when the lights turn on in the big leagues. You work and do your routine and do the best when the game starts.”
He has four homers but also has connected with a double and three singles. Known as much for his power stroke as for striking out, Reynolds has whiffed only two times and walked twice in 20 plate appearances so far with the Nats.
“Just hit the ball hard,” Reynolds said. “It’s not necessarily homers. Just barreling some balls. I’m not striking out a lot yet. It’ll come. I feel really comfortable at the plate. I’m swinging at strikes, taking balls. This game has it’s up and down. My peaks are pretty high, my valleys are pretty low, so just gonna try to stay consistent as I can and help us when I’m in there.
And at 34 years of age, Reynolds had an appreciation watching the joy of Soto as he rounded bases with a second inning three-run shot, especially after not finding a team coming out of spring training.
“Yeah, after being almost done this year, I think sometimes in the past I’d maybe take it for granted that I was here,” Reynolds said. “Now I reflect a lot more and really cherish every moment that I have because after this offseason, I don’t know how many more I’m going to have.
“But to see him come and do what he’s doing at 19 is crazy. I played with Justin Upton when he came up. He was 19. Just phenoms, man. Bryce was the same way. It’s fun to be around these guys and fun to watch them go out there and play every night.”
The question was asked to several players after the game: What were they doing at age 19?
Winning pitcher Gio Gonzalez said he thought he might have touched high Single-A.
Reynolds was at the University of Virginia.
“When I was 19, I could barely swing a metal bat,” Reynolds said. “So it’s pretty impressive, and I’m glad he’s here.”
Pretty nice gets by general manager Mike Rizzo on different ends of the “game experience” spectrum -- Soto and Reynolds -- the duo combines for three homers to deliver a win for their newest team.