When Neftali Soto opened the month with a three-homer showing, he quipped that it was hard enough just to get three hits in a game -- let alone three homers. Barely over a week, he tied a career high with five base knocks.
"That's a pretty good night too," he joked. "Like I said, it is hard to get three hits -- three home runs in that case -- and it's a good feeling to get five. It's awesome."
Video: Syracuse's Soto notches fifth hit
The Washington infielder went 5-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in Triple-A Syracuse's 7-3 loss to Toledo at Fifth Third Field on Wednesday. The perfect day at the dish gave him a .316/.366/.557 slash line over 45 International League games and a .324 average on the season -- he hit .329/.386/.540 over 67 games with Double-A Harrisburg. He's also collected multiple hits in five of 11 August games and reached base in 10 of them.
"Definitely I am [in a groove]," the 28-year-old first baseman said. "I don't know, I'm feeling pretty good at the plate. I'm healthy, and that's a good thing. I'm just kind of working on being in a good approach and sticking to my approach. I'm working on that during BP and all that, and it's paying off."
Way back on July 30, 2008 -- one season after Cincinnati drafted him out of Puerto Rico in the third round -- Soto went 5-for-6 for Class A Dayton. He admitted putting up five hits one rung below the Majors felt like a bigger deal.
"Yeah, for sure," he said. "Hitting is tough, and when you're it doing it here in Triple-A, it's really tough."
Gameday box score
Over the course of the evening, the right-handed hitter sprayed the ball all over the field. He followed a first-inning line single to right field with an RBI liner up the middle in the third. Two frames later, he pulled another single into left, and he doubled to center in the seventh.
"I was hitting the ball where I was pitched," Soto said. "They pitched me in and they pitched me away and I was able to hit it [where I should]. I had a good approach and put myself in a good position to hit the ball to every part of the field. That's why I work in the cage and work in BP too."
He went up the middle once more with two outs in the ninth, plating another run and bringing the Chiefs within four. Soto's excitement over collecting his fifth hit of the game was tempered by the situation.
"I wanted to win. I thought about it, like, 'Wow, I have five hits' and all that, but we just want to win," he said. "It's awesome, but the team spirit, you want to do the best you can to help the team win, and in that case, we were losing. It's fun, but I was just thinking about how to help us tie the game so we could win."
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Jeimer Candelario, the Tigers No. 3 prospect after coming aboard from the Cubs in the Justin Wilson deadline deal, went 3-for-5 with a homer, a triple, three runs scored and two RBIs for the Mud Hens.
Video: Toledo's Candelario hits leadoff homer
"He had a big homer. He's a great guy as a person -- I talked to him a little when he got to field," Soto said. "His approach is nice. He got a triple, then he was early on some fastballs, and I think that's what allowed him to hit the way he did."
Anthony Vasquez (7-7) picked up the win for Toledo, allowing two runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out three over five innings.