Juan Soto’s debut couldn’t have gone better for Padres

SAN DIEGO – The sold-out crowd came out to cheer Juan Soto in his first game with the San Diego Padres. It got crazy when Brandon Drury hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw with his new team.

Feeding off the energy of Soto and the crowd, the new-look Padres routed the Colorado Rockies 9-1 on an electric Wednesday night at Petco Park.

The crowd of 44,652 was lively before the game even started and gave Soto a standing ovation as he raced to his position in right field in the first inning and then back again when he came to home plate late in the inning. . He drew a walk to start a five-point rally that was capped off with the Drury grand slam.

“It’s very cool. It brings me a lot of emotions,” said Soto, the 23-year-old generational talent whose acquisition from Josh Bell in a blockbuster trade with Washington shook both the team and the city.” It’s amazing how they encouraged me. They gave us the energy to go out there and play hard.

Before the game, Soto, one of the best young hitters in the game, said he was happy Bell was included in the trade. The two were flown to San Diego in a private jet on Tuesday evening.

“For me, I never realized I was going to be traded together. I was probably thinking for myself,” Soto said. “When I realized I was coming with Josh, we had a great relationship and I I was more excited and more motivated because he’s coming and I know what kind of guy he is and what he brings to the table. I’m beyond excited to share another clubhouse with him.

Manny Machado, who carried the Padres most of the season, homered in the lead in fifth and finished three times in the cycle in San Diego’s fifth straight win. Jake Cronenworth had a two-point shot. The big beneficiary was southpaw Blake Snell (4-5), who struck out nine in six innings and won his third straight start.

The Padres unveiled their new roster with Soto batting second and Bell hitting the cleanup a day after being secured in one of their biggest expiring contracts on Tuesday. Drury was also obtained Tuesday, from Cincinnati, and put a charge in the already celebratory atmosphere with a grand slam against Chad Kuhl with one out in the first.

Soto walked, Machado doubled and Bell walked to charge the bases before Cronenworth was hit with a pitch to bring Soto in. Drury then drove the first pitch he saw from Kuhl into the left center seats and the fans went wild. It was his second career grand slam and his 21st home run this season.

Juan Soto hits a single in the Padres' 9-1 win over the Rockies.
Juan Soto hits a single in the Padres’ 9-1 win over the Rockies.

“I was just running on adrenaline,” Drury said. “The fans were amazing tonight. First at bat, bases loaded, I was just running on pure adrenaline. Really excited to be here. It was quite special for me. »

Drury said he went out to stretch 25 minutes before the game “and the fans were going crazy. I was there warming up and I was like pumped up, ready to go. It was definitely an amazing day.

At the pregame batting meeting, Melvin told the players, “It’s going to be like that. It’s really been all year. When you bring guys like that, it takes things to a different level. We just wanted to let them know it’s going to be pretty cool.

Juan Soto shares a laugh with new teammate Nomar Mazara during the Padres' win.
Juan Soto shares a laugh with new teammate Nomar Mazara during the Padres’ win.
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“Before we even took the field, it was,” Melvin said. “It seemed like the place was packed before the game even started. It was rare.”

Soto scored a single, walked twice, scored once and retired twice. Bell walked twice and scored twice.

Melvin said Soto “seems to bring energy. You see him backing up first base on ground balls; there’s just a lot he brings to the table. Obviously on base, what he does in swinging the bat. The fans seemed to embrace very quickly. He’s just one of those guys who has a lot of energy around him and I think everyone felt that today.

Soto is under contract for two seasons beyond this year and said he thought of nothing after that.

“I only think about winning,” he said before the game. “I just come to this clubhouse to bring the energy that I have, all the good vibes that I need to bring here, to win.”

As for Snell, he had a third straight start. He held the Rockies to one run and four hits in six innings, without a walk. His four wins this season have come in his last five starts. After receiving just 15 support runs in his first 11 starts, he has received 19 support runs in his last two starts.

Kuhl (6-7) allowed nine runs and eight hits in five innings, struck out four and walked three.

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