- - Thursday, August 29, 2019

As a couple of young stars still learning the ropes in the majors, Juan Soto and Victor Robles have been drawing on each other’s support all season.


The outfielders each drew a portrait of the other earlier this summer as part of a lighthearted segment on MLB.com’s Cut4 channel featuring the two hot-hitting Dominicans fueling the Nationals’ resurgence this year.

Fun is a baseball mantra for Robles and Soto, who were in New York for a game against the Mets.

“We were just having a good time there,” Soto told The Washington Times on Wednesday. “It was fun. Everything is different there. We were just enjoying our time there. Why not? We just like to have a good time.”

Soto, 20, and Robles, 22, are much more serious in the batter’s box. They add punch to a Washington offense that scored 166 runs this month — the most in the National League.

They have also benefitted from the clubhouse addition of veteran outfielder Gerardo Parra, the 32-year-old from Venezuela who came aboard in May after he was let go by the Giants.

“It has been amazing,” Soto said. “Since he got here everything changed; the whole thing changed, the energy, how we play the baseball, how we fight every day, how we enjoy the game. Since he came here you can see how everything changed. People are enjoying the game.”

Soto hit .295 with five homers and 11 RBI in his last 15 games. For the year, his second year in the majors, he is hitting .290 with 29 homers, 88 RBI and an OPS of .955.

“(Soto’s) way above his years, really,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s very mature for his age. He understands the game.”

Robles has hit .339 with eight RBI and six steals in his last 15 games. For the year, he is batting .251 with 16 homers, 23 steals and 56 RBIs.

Robles is one of only five players, and the only rookie, with at least 20 doubles, 20 steals and 15 homers this season.

The others were MVP candidate Christian Yelich, Starling Marte, Jonathan Villar and Jose Ramirez.

While their offensive numbers are impressive, veteran right fielder Adam Eaton, 30, has been impressed with the learning curve on defense for both Robles and Soto.

“They continue to learn and they learn quickly,” Eaton said. “At their age, it is impressive. Soto doesn’t try to do too much out there. He makes the plays he is supposed to make and there is a lot of value to that. Victor has just corralled his arms and legs and body to be more efficient.”

Washington had won eight of 10 and 16 of 21 after beating the Orioles 8-4 Wednesday.

The Nationals were 74-58 and entered Thursday 51/2 games back of first-place Atlanta in the National League East.

Washington holds the top spot in the wild card race. The Nationals were off Thursday and begin a three-game series with last-place Miami at home Friday.

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