Just over 24 hours since a trade that altered the landscape of Major League Baseball, the new-look San Diego Padres were in action in front of their fans. Newly-acquired Josh Bell and Brandon Drury were both in the lineup, but, obviously, the main course here — at least before the game started — was the Padres debut of 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto.
Soto slotted second in the lineup, hitting in front of MVP candidate Manny Machado and new cleanup man Bell.
The Padres would send their fans home extremely happy with a 9-1 win. Soto wasn’t the star of the show at the plate and instead, it was the rest of the Padres’ lineup that showed how fearsome it can be around him. From before the game started through the end, it was a raucous event in San Diego. The announced attendance was 44,652, which is a sellout.
Eyewitness accounts pegged the atmosphere as “electric” and the Padres broadcasters noted multiple times that it’s probably the most amped they’ve ever seen Petco Park. This was before the game even started.
Here’s Soto heading out to right field for his first inning with the team.
He came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the first and the entire crowd was standing. Many fans could be seen holding their phones to record the occasion. When Rockies pitcher Chad Kuhl ran the count to 3-0, he was showered with boos before the Padres faithful shifted to chants of “SOTO! SOTO! SOTO!”
Soto surely had the green light on the aforementioned 3-0, but ball four wasn’t even close. His first plate appearance with the Padres was a walk.
Of course, that walk ended up as the catalyst for a huge inning. Following the Soto walk, Machado doubled, Bell walked, Jake Cronenworth was hit with a pitch and then Drury, in his very first pitch as a Padre, hit a grand slam:
That inning set the tone for the rest of the game. Machado would go 3 for 4 with a home run and double. Cronenworth homered and drove home three runs. Trent Grisham had an RBI double. Bell was on base twice and scored both times.
Soto lined a single to right field for his first hit as a Padre in the bottom of the eighth.
He ended up 1 for 3 with two walks and a run scored. Even if he was overshadowed, that’s a very good debut.
On the mound, Padres lefty Blake Snell kept his nice little run going. In July, Snell went 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. On Wednesday, he allowed just one run on four hits in six innings while striking out nine without issuing a walk. He got into a bit of trouble in the third, but otherwise dominated.
Soto didn’t star in the game, but he didn’t need to. That’s the beautiful thing about baseball. He had a perfectly solid game while Machado, Cronenworth and Drury went nuts. There will be games where Soto is the star all the same. The point of acquiring Soto, Bell and Drury was to make the lineup as fearsome as possible. For the first day with the new-look lineup, it was mission accomplished.
The Padres have now won five straight games and get the Rockies at home again in a matinee on Thursday before heading to L.A. for a three-game series against the first-place Dodgers.