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

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

Fueled by the energy of Soto and the crowd, the new Padres led the Colorado Rockies 9-1 on an electric Wednesday night at Petco Park.

The crowd of 44,652 was already animated before the game started, giving Soto a standing ovation as he ran to his rightfield position in the first inning, and then again when he came on the plate in the bottom of the inning. He pulled a walk to start a five-run rally that concluded with Drury’s grand slam.

“It feels really cool. It brings a lot of emotions,” said Soto, the 23-year-old generational talent whose acquisition along with Josh Bell in a blockbuster with Washington shocked both the team and the city. “It feels amazing how they cheered for me. give us the energy to get out there and play hard.”

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

“I never realized I would be traded together. I was probably just thinking,” Soto said. “When I realized I was coming with Josh we have a great relationship and I was more excited and more pumped because he comes and I know what kind of man he is and what he brings to the table. I’m more than excited to share another clubhouse with him.”

Manny Machado, who has worn the Padres for most of the season, homered in fifth and finished a triple short in the cycle in San Diego’s fifth straight win. Jake Cronenworth had a two-run shot. The big beneficiary was lefthander Blake Snell (4-5), who struckout nine in six innings and won his third consecutive start.

The Padres unveiled their new look lineup with Soto as second batter and Bell clearing out a day after they got hooked on Tuesday in one of the biggest deadline deals ever. Drury was also taken out of Cincinnati on Tuesday and set up the already festive atmosphere with a grand slam over Chad Kuhl with one out in the first

Soto walked, Machado doubled and Bell walked to load the bases before Cronenworth was hit by a pitch to bring in Soto. Drury then drove the first throw he saw from Kuhl to the left center seats and the fans went crazy. It was his second Grand Slam career and 21st homer this season.

Juan Soto singles in the Padres' 9-1 victory over the Rockies.
Juan Soto singles in the Padres’ 9-1 victory over the Rockies.

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

Drury said he went out 25 minutes before the game to stretch out “and the fans were just going crazy. I was there warming up and I was just pumped up, ready to go. It sure was a great day.”

During the pre-game hitters’ meeting, Melvin told the players, “It’s going to be like this. It really has been all year. When you bring in guys like that, it takes it to another level. We just wanted to let them know that this is going to be pretty cool.

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

Soto singled, walked twice, scored once and grounded out twice. Bell walked twice and scored twice.

Melvin said Soto “seems to bring some energy. You see him back up from first base on ground balls; there’s just a lot he brings to the table. Obviously on base, what he does with 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 more seasons after this year and says he will not think about anything after that.

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

As for Snell, he had a third strong start in a row. He held the Rockies to one run and four hits in six innings, without a walk. His four wins this season have been in his last five starts. After getting only 15 supports in his first 11 starts, he has gained 19 supports in his last two starts.

Kuhl (6-7) gave up nine runs and eight hits in five innings, struckout four and walked three.

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