Juan Soto sparks chants of 'M-V-P!' at Yankee Stadium 51 games into season

juan soto sparks chants of 'm-v-p!' at yankee stadium 51 games into season

New York Yankees' Juan Soto hits a two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP) — Fifty-one games into the season, Juan Soto is sparking chants of “M-V-P!” at Yankee Stadium.

“Way too early,” Soto said after his second two-homer game of the homestand led the Yankees over the Seattle Mariners 7-3 on Wednesday night and stopped New York's first two-game losing streak in three weeks.

juan soto sparks chants of 'm-v-p!' at yankee stadium 51 games into season

New York Yankees' Juan Soto, left, celebrates withAaron Judge after hitting a two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Soto drove a full-count sinker into the visitors’ bullpen in left in the third for a two-run homer and a 4-0 lead, a 414-foot drive off Bryce Miller that hit the back wall on a hop. Soto connected on another sinker on Miller’s first pitch of the sixth inning, a 369-foot shot into the left-field stands.

juan soto sparks chants of 'm-v-p!' at yankee stadium 51 games into season

New York Yankees' Juan Soto follows through on a home run against the Seattle Mariners uring the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

That prompted the “M-V-P!” chorus from the crowd of 40,224.

“I love when when the Bronx gets behind our guys,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Obviously showing their appreciation for him.”

In his first season since the Yankees acquired him from San Diego, Soto is hitting .313 with 13 homers, 40 RBIs and a .978 OPS. The 25-year-old Dominican repeatedly responds to the admiration and affection from the fans behind him in the right-field seats.

“I just got to turn around and they go crazy,” he said. “I know it's a lot of Dominicans. They all want me to say hi. I tried to say hi to everybody, but I got to be focused in the game, too.”

juan soto sparks chants of 'm-v-p!' at yankee stadium 51 games into season

New York Yankees' Juan Soto smiles in the dugout after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Soto, who can become a free agent after the World Series, has helped boost the Yankees to an AL-best 34-17 record.

“I’m enjoying every part of every part of it,” he said. “You never know how long this going to be like that, so you do try to enjoy it every second. So I just soak it all in.”

Judge, the 2022 AL MVP, loves hearing Soto getting a fan response similar to the one the Yankees captain has long received.

juan soto sparks chants of 'm-v-p!' at yankee stadium 51 games into season

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge, center, celebrates with Juan Soto, right, and Alex Verdugo after the team's win in a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

“It gives me chills," Judge said. “The fans are definitely loving the show he's putting on."

Judge hit an opposite-field, two-run homer to right in the first off Miller and is batting .268 with 14 homers — 11 since late April — and 34 RBIs.

Judge credits Soto with boosting the entire batting order.

“It’s entertaining. It’s fun to watch. It gives everybody behind him a good look at all the guys pitches, what he’s trying to do that day,” Judge said.

After Nestor Cortes pitched five scoreless innings, Luke Weaver allowed a three-run homer to Cal Raleigh that cut the lead to 5-3 in the eighth. Alex Verdugo hit a two-run homer in the bottom half.

Entertaining the crowd, Judge, Soto and Verdugo urged on different sections of the bleachers in a cheering competition during an eighth-inning pitching change

“It’s just a good way to get the crowd into it,” Judge said. “Get them a little rowdy, man, they just want to cheer.”

Soto has 19 career two-homer games but has never hit three. He came to the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh against Cody Bolton but struck out on three big swings.

“I think I went too far," Soto said. “I got too happy with it.”

He leaves the stadium with the sounds of the fans in his head.

“At the end of the day, they're part of the game, they’re part of the team,” he said. “They put pressure on the other team. And whenever they go crazy like that, that other team feels the pressure.”

___

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Ronald Blum, The Associated Press

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