Juan Soto’s ‘savage at-bats’ take over Giants’ killer mantle from Judge

Yankees' Juan Soto flips his bat in style after hitting a home run against the Giants at Oracle Park on June 2, 2024.
Michael Bennington
Monday June 3, 2024

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The spotlight in the Yankees vs. Giants series was mostly on Aaron Judge’s remarkable performances. With his sizzling homer spree, the ex-Giants fan didn’t disappoint. However, on Sunday, his bat went for a rest and slugger Juan Soto took over the Giant-killing mantle by thumping his chest after hitting homers.

Juan Soto powered two home runs, including a decisive go-ahead shot in the ninth inning, as New York secured a 7-5 victory over the Giants at Oracle Park, completing a series sweep.

Manager Aaron Boone admired Juan Soto’s “savage at-bats right there” and highlighted his home runs off Giants starter Blake Snell and closer Camilo Doval.

“That’s some savage at-bats right there,” Boone said. “Wow! To get on a pitch that he hit off Snell to start out the day … and then he bookends the day with another homer off Doval. Pretty good day with a homer off Snell and Doval. Pretty good day.”

This victory capped off a successful 7-2 West Coast road trip for the Yankees (42-19) against the Padres, Angels, and Giants. The team returned home Sunday night for a day off on Monday.

Juan Soto’s ‘GOAT’ performance for Yankees

Juan Soto’s performance on Lou Gehrig Day was nothing short of spectacular. In the first inning, he fearlessly faced off against last year’s NL Cy Young winner, Blake Snell, in a lefty vs. lefty showdown. Snell left a 97-mph fastball up in the zone, and Juan Soto capitalized, launching a deep shot to right-center field.

As the ball soared toward Triples Alley at Oracle Park, Juan Soto admired his handiwork from home plate before realizing he’d better start running. Halfway between first and second base, he saw the ball clear the fence, prompting him to slow down and raise his right arm triumphantly.

Juan Soto’s theatrics continued as he crossed home plate, raising both arms high in the air. He then engaged in a playful handshake routine with Aaron Judge, reminiscent of the special handshake between one of the twins and the butler in the “Parent Trap” remake.

But his contributions didn’t end there. Juan Soto laid down a perfect bunt single to ignite a two-run inning and later crushed a game-changing homer in the ninth. His heroics propelled the Yankees to a thrilling 7-5 victory, cementing another unforgettable Soto moment.

Juan Soto has been a force to be reckoned with in his debut season with the Yankees. Starting every game in right field, he’s batting an impressive .322 with 17 home runs, 53 RBI, 40 walks, and a staggering 1.031 OPS.

Juan Soto’s ninth-inning blast lifts Yankees to a thrilling win

On Sunday, the Yankees found themselves trailing 5-3 heading into the ninth inning, with the bottom of the order set to face the Giants’ formidable closer, Camilo Doval, known for his blistering 100-mph-plus fastballs.

Gleyber Torres ignited the Yankees’ special rally with a line single, followed by a crucial play from the slow-footed catcher Jose Trevino, who hustled down the first base line on a grounder to short, forcing a fielder’s choice instead of a rally-killing double play.

Next up was Anthony Volpe‘, who delivered a clutch RBI triple to right-center, cutting the deficit to one run and putting the tying run on third with one out, setting the stage for Juan Soto’s heroics.

“I knew A.V. was on third,” Juan Soto remarked. “I just tried to get something elevated and tried to drive it to the outfield, tried to tie the game.”

Juan Soto did more than just tie the game. After taking a 100-mph fastball high and outside for ball one, he pounced on the next pitch, a 97-mph cutter right down the middle. The ball rocketed off his bat, soaring deep into the San Francisco sky. While it didn’t quite have the distance to splash into McCovey Cove, it was still a no-doubt home run that propelled the Yankees into a 6-5 lead.

“That’s what he does,” Judge said. “We’ve seen it all year long. He comes up in big moments against one of the best closers in the game who is running it up to 102 mph. That was a nice one. That was impressive.”

Juan Soto’s home run celebration was a spectacle to behold. His signature bat flip was supercharged, spinning like a helicopter blade, completing a dozen rotations before finally landing on the ground.

Throughout the nine-game California road trip, his offensive prowess was on full display. He collected five singles, two doubles, two triples, and four home runs, including a stellar 3-for-5 performance on Sunday.
In addition to his two long balls, Juan Soto showcased his versatility in the fifth inning. After Anthony Volpe grounded a one-out single to center, he executed a perfect bunt toward the third-base side of the mound. It’s a rare sight to see sluggers lay down bunts, but his skill and situational awareness shone through.

New York Yankees’ Juan Soto, right, celebrates with Aaron Judge, left, after hitting a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, June 2, 2024, in San Francisco.
AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez

The bunt proved crucial, as it set the stage for a two-run inning when Alex Verdugo lined a double to right, knotting the game at 3-3. Of course, Soto’s true strength lies in his power-hitting ability, and his second homer of the afternoon was the decisive blow that ultimately swung the game in the Yankees’ favor.

Judge, who went 2-for-3 with two walks and two steals, remarked the quality of at-bats throughout the ninth inning, noting that each player contributed significantly to the rally. “If they didn’t get a pitch, they just passed it to the next guy, who came up big. We felt like we were never out of the game,” he said.

Soto echoed this sentiment, expressing his happiness with the team’s performance and the fun they are having. “We’ve been playing great baseball and it’s great to come here and continue doing what we’ve been doing since Day 1,” he said.

Juan Soto’s second of the game and 17th of the season, brought his RBI total to 53. It was a key moment in the Yankees’ three-game sweep at Oracle Park and extended their winning streak to five games.

Manager Aaron Boone praised the team’s resilience and highlighted the slugger’s significant contribution. The victory improved the Yankees’ record to 42-19, with an impressive 24-11 mark on the road. Juan Soto, who is hitting a team-leading .322 with a .417 on-base percentage and a 1.031 OPS, is on track for his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance. As a potential free agent, the Yankees are reportedly eager to secure him with a long-term extension beyond 2024.

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