Alfonso Soriano looks again for the stolen base he lacks to become the fourth player in major league history to have 40 home runs and 40 steals in the same season when his Washington Nationals begin a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers at RFK Stadium on Friday.
Soriano, who has 45 homers and 39 stolen bases, was thrown out attempting to steal third base for the second straight game on Wednesday as the last-place Nationals (63-83) lost 4-2 in Arizona.
“I think I’m trying too much to do it because I want everybody to enjoy it like I’m supposed to be enjoying it, too,” he said. “I think now I have to calm down and whatever happens just happens.”
Soriano has been in this position before. He finished with 39 home runs and 41 steals in 2002 while with the New York Yankees, failing to homer in his last 11 games.
Soriano is 2-for-2 in his career against Brewers starter Tomo Ohka (4-5, 4.83 ERA), but has also been caught stealing when the right-hander has been on the mound. Milwaukee catcher Damian Miller has thrown out 12 of 48 runners who have attempted to steal against him this season.
“I’ll try to do it at home,” Soriano said. “I think that will be more exciting for me and for the fans to see.”
Ohka is making his second start against the Nationals since they traded him to Milwaukee (66-80) on June 10, 2005, six days after he turned his back on Frank Robinson when the Washington manager removed him in a start against Florida.
In his previous outing against Washington, Ohka allowed three runs and four hits while striking out six in seven innings of a 5-3 win at Miller Park on July 17, 2005.
Ohka enters with losses in his last two starts after going without a defeat in his previous four outings. He allowed six runs, three hits and five walks in just two innings of Saturday’s 10-4 loss to Houston—his shortest start since also going two innings on Sept. 6, 2003.
“Warm-ups were good,” Ohka said. “But when I saw the first hitter, I felt different on the mound than in the bulllpen. I tried to adjust, but I couldn’t.”
Washington’s Ramon Ortiz (10-13, 5.19) could not build off his near no-hitter in his last outing. Ortiz allowed seven runs in a 9-5 loss at Colorado on Saturday after coming within three outs of not allowing a hit to St. Louis on Sept. 4.
“I don’t think I pitched too bad,” he said.
Ortiz has won his last three decisions against the Brewers to improve to 4-2 with a 4.91 ERA in seven career appearances against them.
Milwaukee avoided a doubleheader and three-game series sweep with a 2-1 win Wednesday at Pittsburgh. The victory was just the Brewers’ fourth in their last 19 contests.
The Nationals outscored Milwaukee 22-11 in a three-game sweep at Miller Park from June 2-4. Washington went 3-1 against the Brewers at RFK Stadium last season.