Saturday, October 1, 2022

Juan Soto hits first San Diego homer, Padres ‘get the energy back’ with Manny Machado’s walk-off vs. Giants

Juan Soto homered for the first time Tuesday night since being traded to the San Diego Padres facing Alex Cobb and the San Francisco Giants, in a game the Padres eventually won in dramatic fashion (SD 7, SF 4). 

Soto’s blast came in the fourth inning with the then-hitless Padres trailing by a 1-0 margin. He worked a full count against Cobb before taking advantage of a 96-mph elevated fastball. Take a look:

According to Statcast, Soto’s home run left the bat traveling at 107.9 mph and carried 395 feet. 

Soto entered the night batting .300/.440/.450 with a double and a triple over the course of 25 plate appearances and six games with the Padres. Overall, he’d hit .249/.410/.383 (159 OPS+) in his first 107 games this season. It merits mentioning, given Soto’s youth and his trajectory, Tuesday’s blast represented the 120th of his career.

The Padres took a 4-1 lead to the ninth inning, but a three-run Giants’ ninth meant the Padres would be forced to win in a walk-off or lose their sixth consecutive game. Manny Machado made sure it would be the former scenario: 

That’s a three-run shot for the Padres to end their losing streak.

The Padres acquired Soto at the deadline as part of a massive deal that netted them first baseman Josh Bell as well. In return, the Padres sent veteran first baseman Luke Voit and a handful of young players to the Washington Nationals: shortstop C.J. Abrams, left-hander MacKenzie Gore, outfielders Robert Hassell III and James Wood, and right-hander Jarlin Susano. (Eric Hosmer, originally reported as being part of the trade, exercised his partial no-trade clause to prevent his inclusion; he was subsequently traded to the Boston Red Sox.)

“Once we get going, and we get hot, it’s going to be a scary lineup,” Machado said, via MLB.com. “A scary team.”

Although the Padres also added closer Josh Hader — who blew the save in a rocky ninth — they’ve had difficulty gaining traction since the deadline. Indeed, the Padres entered Tuesday having dropped five consecutive games, including all three they played last weekend against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Padres were outscored by a 20-4 margin in those three contests versus the Dodgers, their top National League West rival.

Maybe the Soto homer to get things started and the Machado blast to win it will get them going. 

“There’s only one way to start a winning streak,” Soto said. “That’s winning the first one. It was really important for the team to get the energy back.”

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