No, Gregory Soto didn’t get to pitch to Juan Soto like he wanted in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Coors Field. The Tigers reliever missed the Nationals slugger by one batter. The former still seemed to have an enjoyable time at the Midsummer Classic, J.T. Realmuto home run aside.
Soto, the Tigers’ lone representative at this year’s All-Star Game, pitched the bottom of the fifth inning. Juan Soto had entered the game in the top half of the frame to replace former Tiger Nick Castellanos, who was retired to end the fourth. The two aren’t related; Soto just wanted the matchup.
The hard-throwing lefty had his power sinker working early and often, burying one at 98.8 mph to induce a Jesse Winker groundout to lead off the inning. Soto kept working the bottom of the strike zone to Realmuto, who connected on a 1-1 sinker at the same velocity and drove it out to center for the National League’s first run.
Soto regrouped to get two more groundouts, both off of 99 mph fastballs. He threw 11 pitches for the inning, six for strikes, averaging just under 98 mph with his sinker and four-seam fastball. He fell just shy of cracking triple digits, topping out with a 99.8 mph fastball and 99.4 mph sinker.
Soto made sure to make a big entrance, both into the ballpark and into the game. As promised, he had a special suit for his trip down the red — or in this case purple — carpet, decked out in sky blue with his family at his side.
Soto also had special gear for the game, a shiny silver glove that included Soto’s notable stats displayed on the outside of the webbing. Don’t expect to see that during a regular-season game; Soto had to change gloves during a ninth-inning appearance for the Tigers earlier this month after he had sweat through his normal glove and umpires ruled the resulting color out of code.
One fashion statement Soto didn’t make was his once-bright hair. He didn’t have time to get any special colors blended in, having gotten rid of his orange locks earlier this season. That could change for the stretch run.
“Maybe in a couple weeks,” he told reporters on Monday at All-Star media day.