Juan Soto's late AB vs. Blue Jays was perfect counter to Sal Licata foolishness

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Cole Burston/GettyImages

Aaron Judge made the narrative all the sweeter by breaking a personal slide and coming through on a full-count stinger against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday evening, but don't let Juan Soto keeping the line moving get lost in the Soto Shuffle.

After Anthony Volpe's unfortunate popup with a runner on third (don't worry, he redeemed himself -- twice! -- on defense the next half inning), Soto strode to the plate with two men on, a free base, and a slumping Judge behind him. Logic dictated that Blue Jays left-hander Tim Mayza would be careful with Soto, even with the arm-side advantage. Judge's numbers, which seemed to be turning some form of corner in Cleveland, had plummeted once again in a hitless trip to the Rogers Centre. Soto, on the other hand, had boomed a long home run to slice the deficit in his previous at-bat.

A lesser superstar would've tried to tear the cover off the baseball, especially after seeing an unwise pitch in the zone early in the at-bat. But Soto, who mostly spat on dreck, trusted his captain, loaded the bases, and left Mayza no margin for error.

The Jays lefty seemed scared of the zone, but got a call on a running fastball in off the plate to bring the count to 3-2. He tried the inner half again, Judge beat him to the spot, and the rest was history. That marks twice in the past week where Soto has cranked up the pressure on an opposing pitcher who refused to give him much to hit, leaving a scuffler to stare down Judge and retire him on merit. Soto's success rate in setting up his teammate is now officially 50% -- which works nicely over a long season, and rubs Mets personality Sal Licata's smug face directly in the reality of the situation. A walk may not always be as good as a hit, but forging the trust to pass the baton instead of forcing things could eventually lay the groundwork for one (or two, or three) shining moments.

Yankees slugger Juan Soto sets up Aaron Judge's clutch smash with walk

Sorry, Sal. We understand it can be tough to watch Soto thrive across town while you await his free agency like an anonymous midwestern creep waiting out a celebrity breakup so you can mail Jennifer Garner's agency a flirty letter. But, somehow, getting pre-angry at his tendency not to force things with the game on the line is even worse than celebrating his homers and dominance because, someday, he may be yours.

But, hey, every time Soto snarls, refuses to give in to a pitcher's demands, and sets up his teammates for success, we'll think of you when they deliver. And that might be what you wanted anyway.