Juan Soto’s bat and speed propel Yankees Past Blue Jays in big comeback

Juan Soto celebrates with Yankees captain Aaron Judge after hitting a three-run home run against the Blue Jays game in Toronto on June 28, 2024.
NYY
Sara Molnick
Saturday June 29, 2024

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In a dramatic turnaround Friday night at Rogers Centre, the New York Yankees transformed a two-run deficit into a resounding victory against the Toronto Blue Jays. The catalyst for this remarkable shift was Juan Soto‘s pivotal home run in the sixth inning.

His blast not only erased the Yankees’ trailing position but also ignited a dormant offense. The impact of Juan Soto’s homer reverberated through the lineup, triggering an explosive offensive performance that had been notably absent in recent games.

The result was a commanding 16-5 win for the Yankees, marking a stark contrast to their sluggish start. This offensive awakening came at a crucial time for the team, which had been grappling with a hitting slump.

Juan Soto’s timely hit proved to be more than just a game-changer; it served as a spark that reignited the entire team’s batting prowess, turning what began as a challenging night into a resounding triumph for the Yankees.

Juan Soto drills to lead Yankees offensive blaze

The rally began with ninth batter Jahmai Jones, who had already collected two hits, delivering a soft single to initiate the comeback. Capitalizing on the momentum, leadoff hitter Anthony Volpe followed with a well-executed bunt single, setting the stage for a dramatic turnaround.

Juan Soto hits a three-run homer in the Yankees vs. Blue Jays game in Toronto on June 28, 2024.
NYY

With two runners on base, Juan Soto stepped up to the plate and, on a 3-0 count, unleashed his power. The All-Star outfielder connected for his 20th homer of the season, a towering 396-foot shot that ricocheted off the second deck’s facade in right field.

Juan Soto’s three-run blast propelled the Yankees to a 4-3 lead, their first advantage in nearly a week. This crucial hit not only changed the game but also marked the end of Yusei Kikuchi‘s night on the mound for the Blue Jays. Despite Kikuchi’s earlier dominance, evidenced by his seven strikeouts, Juan Soto’s home run ultimately sealed his fate as the losing pitcher.

Juan Soto’s homer revitalized a stagnant Yankees offense, reminiscent of their early-season dominance and gave them, who had struggled offensively in recent games, a welcome relief. The victory also highlighted their ability to swiftly change the course of a game, even from behind.

Juan Soto expressed satisfaction with giving his team the lead, highlighting the importance of staying composed against a talented pitcher and making solid contact. He emphasized that securing the lead and positioning the team well were the most critical aspects of his performance.

“It feels great to get the lead to my team every time,’ the slugger said. “I was just, you know, it’s a great pitcher on the mound and just try to relax, try to make a good contact and. At the end of the day I got the homer but yeah, the more important thing is like get the lead and put our team in a good spot.”

Reflecting on his decision to swing on a 3-0 count for his 20th home run of the season, Juan Soto affirmed his commitment to an aggressive approach. He explained that facing a pitcher with strong pitches, he anticipated a strike and seized the opportunity.

“One-hundred percent I’m swinging,” he said. “Against a guy like that who has nasty pitches, knowing he’s going to try to get one [strike] right there, definitely I was aggressive.

Juan Soto steals to bring Yankees back

Juan Soto also played a crucial role in tying the game in the fourth inning. After drawing a walk and advancing on Judge’s single, he scored by exploiting Aaron Judge’s maneuver to avoid a tag on Davis’ grounder to second, initiating a rundown. This strategic play enabled Juan Soto to cross home plate, evening the score at 1-1.

When asked about Judge’s astute baserunning that set up his scoring chance, Juan Soto praised his teammate’s intelligence. He noted that the objective in such scenarios is to prolong the rundown, prevent a double play, and create a scoring opportunity and lauded Judge’s quick decision-making, which ultimately benefited the team.

“You know, a smart play, don’t get tagged,” he said. “I try to make the rundown and give me a chance to score. You know, on that play you want to make the last hour home play know and a double play right there. So it was a really smart play by him (Judge).”

The Yankees’ ability to capitalize on these strategic moves and Juan Soto’s potent hitting and running played a pivotal role in their comeback victory, showcasing the team’s resilience and offensive prowess.

Juan Soto infuses energy into Yankees

New York Yankees’ Juan Soto celebrates in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run off Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Yusei Kikuchi during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, June 28, 2024, in Toronto.
AP

In a stunning reversal, Juan Soto’s emphatic home run electrified the Yankees, turning a two-run deficit into a one-run lead. Manager Aaron Boone recognized the crucial impact of the hit, describing it as the “Kind of that shot we needed right then.”

The home run sparked a six-run sixth inning, followed by a seven-run ninth, leading to a commanding 16-5 victory for the Yankees at Rogers Centre, witnessed by 34,791 spectators. The team combined for 18 hits, with standout performances from Judge, Jones, Juan Soto, Volpe, Gleyber Torres, and Alex Verdugo. DJ LeMahieu, recently back from injury, notched his first extra-base hit of the season.

The Yankees’ offensive resurgence continued as J.D. Davis, a recent addition to bolster first base depth, contributed with his first hit as a Yankee – an RBI double in the sixth inning. Gleyber Torres, returning to the lineup after a two-game benching, followed with a two-run homer, extending the lead to 7-3.

This comprehensive offensive effort, which the team had been lacking, propelled the Yankees (53-31) to only their third victory in 12 games, evening the series as they entered the weekend. Every starter recorded at least one hit, with six players achieving multi-hit performances in the team’s 18-hit total.

Juan Soto’s 20th homer of the year propelled the Yankees (53-31) to a 4-3 lead, their first in 42 innings, marking a significant shift in momentum for the team. He emphasized the team’s constant need for wins, acknowledging recent frustrations but highlighting their ability to move past setbacks and focus on the present game.

“We always need a win,” the slugger said after the win. “It’s been a little frustrating [lately], but it is what it is. We just forget about what happens in the past and we came out to play today and did our job.”

His 20th homer of the season placed Juan Soto among an elite group of Yankees who have achieved this milestone within their first 82 games in pinstripes.

However, Juan Soto maintained that the primary focus was on the importance of maintaining momentum and securing more wins.

“We all, we all happy and excited to do that and keep it rolling, keep it rolling. Most important is to win the game. I think everybody feels great to win another game.”

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