Juan Soto’s debut could not have been higher for the Padres

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

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

The crowd of 44,652 was excited even before the game started, and Soto gave a standing ovation as he ran out to stand in right field in the first inning, and then again when he came to the plate in the bottom of the inning. He drew a walk to start a five-run shutout that included Drury’s grand slam.

“It feels really cool. It creates a lot of emotions for me,” said Soto, the 23-year-old prodigy who was acquired along with Josh Bell in a blockbuster trade with Washington that was a surprise for both the team and the city. “It feels great how they got 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 on a private jet on Tuesday night.

“For me, I never realized that I was going to trade together. I was probably thinking to myself,” Soto said. “When I realized I was coming with Josh, we have a great relationship and I was more excited and more pressured because he is coming and I know what kind of man he is and what he brings to the table. I am delighted to share another clubhouse with him.”

Manny Machado, who has carried the Padres most of the season, managed to reach the fifth and complete three short of the cycle in San Diego’s fifth straight victory. Jake Cronenworth had a two-run shot. Blake Snell (4-5) was the big beneficiary, going nine for six and winning his third straight start.

The Padres unveiled their new look with Soto batting second and Bell making the cleanup a day after acquiring them Tuesday in one of the biggest deadline deals of all time. Drury was also acquired on Tuesday, from Cincinnati, and charged into the already festive atmosphere with a grand slam off Chad Kuhl with one out in the first.

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

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

“I was just running on adrenaline,” Drury said. “The fans were incredible tonight. First at-bat, bases loaded, I was just running on pure adrenaline. Very excited to be here. It was very special to me.”

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

During the pregame winners’ meeting, Melvin told the players, “It’s going to be like this. It was really all over the year. When you bring in guys like this, it takes it to a different level. We wanted to let them know that this is going to be really cool.

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

Soto singled, walked twice, scored once and set up twice. Bell had two walks and scored twice.

Melvin told Soto “He seems to bring some energy. You see him backing up first base on ground balls; it’s just a lot that he brings to the table. Of course, on base, what does he swing the bat. The fans seemed to accept 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 beyond this year and said he is not thinking about anything beyond that.

“I’m just thinking about winning,” he said before the game. “I’m just coming to this clubhouse with all the energy I have, and all the good manners I have to bring here, to bring it to win.”

As for Snell, it was his third straight strong start. He held the Rockies to one run and four hits in six innings, with no walks. All four of his wins this season have come in his last five starts. After getting just 15 RBIs in his first 11 starts, he has 19 RBIs in his last two starts.

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

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