Yankees fall to Nats in unusual twin-bill opener

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 13: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals follows through on a seventh inning home run against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 13, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON  — Despite making his major league debut on May 20, Juan Soto’s first career home run will count in the box score of a game started May 15.

Soto’s pinch-hit, two-run homer was the difference in the Washington Nationals’ 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees in the resumed May 15 game early Monday evening. The game had been suspended last month due to heavy rainfall in the nation’s capital.

Game 1 resumed with the game tied at three in the bottom of the sixth inning. A clean-shaven Bryce Harper (who had a full beard when this game started) struck out to get things underway, and, after an Anthony Rendon single, Soto launched a Chad Green fastball to the back of the right field second deck.

While the 19-year-old Soto’s sixth home run of the season – along with all other statistics from Game 1 of this strange doubleheader – will count as being part of the May 15 game, his official debut will still be considered on May 20, according to the Nationals, citing the Elias Sports Bureau.

Another strange aspect of this Monday in D.C.: the loss retroactively shortened the Yankees’ streak of winning eight consecutive series to seven.

Wander Suero picked up the win in relief after pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings – three outs in May, one in June. Sean Doolittle retired Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez in order in the ninth for his 18th save of the season.

Game 2 is scheduled to begin a half-hour after Game 1 finished, with Washington’s Erick Fedde facing New York’s Sonny Gray in a rematch of last Wednesday’s tilt at Yankee Stadium.

In the five weeks since the games were supposed to be played, both teams’ rosters have changed, as is to be expected. Aside from the debut of Soto on May 20, two position players who started the game for Washington (Howie Kendrick, Achilles injury and Andrew Stevenson, demoted) are no longer around, and the Yankees’ first baseman from the game, Tyler Austin, has since been optioned to Triple-A.

“Really odd. We’re kind of looking at our old lineup cards, trying to make sense of them. Seeing who might go in their spots, (who isn’t) on the team anymore,” Yankees rookie manager Aaron Boone said.

“I think we figured it all out to a degree, but it’s been an odd day looking at it all.”

Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who is also in his first season at the helm, said the closest thing he could compare this situation to was Game 5 of the 2008 World Series. He was then-Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon’s bench coach at the time. The Tampa Bay Rays wound up losing to the eventual champion Philadelphia Phillies in a game that began on a Monday, was halted in the sixth inning (much like Monday’s Game 1) due to rain, and concluded on a Wednesday.

“It’s weird, man,” Martinez said.

The teams were allowed to add a 26th man to their rosters for the second game of the doubleheader, and both chose a pitcher: Austin Voth for Washington and Giovanny Gallegos for New York.

The two clubs will play Game 2 Monday night for their final match-up of the regular season.