Avisaíl García and Jorge Soler continue to beat the Nationals

MIAMI — Nights like Monday are what the Marlins’ brain envisioned for the 2022 season as it made moves to update the roster. The problem is that they come less often than expected.

Avisaíl García and Jorge Soler combined for four RBIs, marking only the third time this season that they both ran in the same game in Miami’s 8-2 win over Washington at loanDepot Park. The Marlins had a season-record 16 hits for ace Sandy Alcantara, who tied eight innings and retired 20 straight hitters, his career record, to cap his start.

It’s a comforting sight for manager Don Mattingly and general manager Kim Ng, both of whom continually stress that the breakout would come eventually because of the slugging duo’s previous history. García entered 2022 with a career of 105 OPS+, while Soler is a former American League home run champion and last year’s World Series MVP.

“Soli is a little further away, Avi is starting to see,” Mattingly said. “It started coming on the West Coast, it really started with just a few hits. That’s always good for guys. You start to make a couple fall, and I’ve said it before, you’re not always turning right and heading back to the shelter.”

Before the lockout, Miami made García its standout acquisition, signing him to a four-year, $53 million deal, coming off a 29-homer, 86-RBI season with the Brewers. The club expected him and Soler to be productive forces in the midst of order. That wasn’t the case early on, a big reason the Marlins (16-19) find themselves third in the National League East and 4-11 so far in May. The inconsistent offense scored three runs or less in 54% of the club’s games, making the pitching team’s margin of error very low.

To say that the beginning of García’s term did not go well would be an understatement. Forget about your average dropping to 0.171 on May 5th in San Diego. Twice this season, he pulled out of games due to an upset stomach.

But since that no-hit performance to open Miami’s last trip, Garcia has started to see results on the board. In Monday’s series opener, García green-lit the second inning of four runs, going deep straight to center, the first of six straight batters to reach base. He later added an RBI single to score Soler in a seventh of four runs.

In the last nine games, as of May 6, García is 12 of 36 (.333) with two home runs and five RBIs. That snippet includes four multi-hit games after just one in their first 24 contests. His average jumped to 0.220. García credits Miami’s batting coaches with the fact that he stays more on his back leg to see better pitches rather than jumping forward.

“I’m just trying not to do too much, and I’ve been working really hard to come back and try to help the team win,” Garcia said. “It’s a long season. I just have to keep working and be positive. Always positive. It’s a tough game. Sometimes you will get results, sometimes you won’t. It’s part of the game. But you just need to keep working. If you stay healthy and keep working, I think the results will be there.”

Miami signed Soler to a one-year deal with options for 2023 and 24 during Spring Training to complete his offseason. Soler recorded just two homers and six RBIs in April, when he spent most of his time as the club’s starting hitter; he already has five homers and 12 RBIs at a more traditional point midway through this month’s order. As of May 7 in San Diego, Soler is 10 for 37 (0.270) with an OPS of 0.877. He drove in a race in five of nine games, including the last three.

And Soler is doing it with elite exit speed. During Monday’s seventh run, his single (113.2 mph) was the hardest hit ball of the game. Shortstop Dee Strange-Gordon didn’t stand a chance as two runners scored easily. Another came home with a couple of shooting errors in the play. Even Soler’s departures are noisy: Maikel Franco captured his 111 mph ocean liner to start fifth.

Soler credits his recent success to keeping his head still on the plate so the ball doesn’t seem to move too far.

“Just doing persistent work, doing things that I did in the cage consistently, working in the cage,” Soler said through an interpreter. “Things are falling into place now.”

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