Juan Soto’s two-run homer gives Nationals early lead vs. Dodgers in NLDS Game 3

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Pressure doesn’t seem to affect 20-year-old slugger Juan Soto. After playing the role of hero in the National League Wild Card game against the Brewers, the Nationals’ outfielder swatted a two-run home run to center field, opening the scoring against Dodgers lefty and NL Cy Young Award contender Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first inning of NLDS Game 3 in Washington, D.C.

Soto was a runner-up to Ronald Acuña Jr. in NL Rookie of the Year voting last year. He followed it up with an equally impressive sophomore campaign in 2019, batting .282/.401/.548 with 34 home runs, 110 RBI, 110 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 659 plate appearances. He’s one of only four players with a 30-homer, 110-RBI season at age 20 or younger. The others are Álex Rodríguez, Ted Williams, and Mel Ott. Pretty good company.

Nationals starter Aníbal Sánchez will take the early run support from Soto. In the top half of the first inning, Sánchez allowed a single and a pair of walks to load the bases but escaped the threat.

Dodgers place pitcher Noah Syndergaard on injured list with no timetable for return

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CINCINNATI — The Los Angeles Dodgers placed pitcher Noah Syndergaard on the 15-day injured list Thursday with a blister on the index finger of his right throwing hand.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the timetable for Syndergaard’s return is unknown despite the 15-day designation.

“The physical, the mental, the emotional part, as he’s talked about, has taken a toll on him,” Roberts said. “So, the ability to get him away from this. He left today to go back to Los Angeles to kind of get back to normalcy.”

Syndergaard allowed six runs and seven hits in three innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night, raising his ERA to 7.16.

Syndergaard (1-4) has surrendered at least five runs in three straight starts.

Syndergaard has been trying to return to the player he was before Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the better part of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Roberts said Syndergaard will need at least “a few weeks” to both heal and get away from baseball and “reset.”

“I think searching and not being comfortable with where he was at in the moment is certainly evident in performance,” Roberts said. “So hopefully this time away will provide more clarity on who he is right now as a pitcher.

“Trying to perform when you’re searching at this level is extremely difficult. I applaud him from not running from it, but it’s still very difficult. Hopefully it can be a tale of two stories, two halves when he does come back.”