SAN DIEGO – The packed crowd came to cheer on Juan Soto in his first game with the San Diego Padres. He flipped out 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 defeated the Colorado Rockies 9-1 on an electric Wednesday night at Petco Park. The crowd of 44,652 was animated even before the game started, giving Soto a standing ovation when he ran to his position in right field in the first inning, and then again when he came to the plate in the bottom of the entrance. He walked to start a five-run rally that culminated in a grand slam by Drury.
“It feels great. It brings a lot of emotions to me,” said Soto, the 23-year-old generational talent whose acquisition along with Josh Bell in a blockbuster trade with Washington rocked both the team and the city. “It feels amazing how they cheered me on. They gave us the energy to go out there and play hard.”
Manny Machado, who has led the Padres most of the season, homered leading off the fifth and finished a triple away from the cycle in San Diego’s fifth straight win. Jake Cronenworth had a two-run home run. The big winner was left-hander Blake Snell (4-5), who struck out nine in six innings and won his third straight start.
The Padres unveiled their new lineup with Soto as the second hitter and Bell as the backup a day after being acquired Tuesday in one of the biggest deadline deals in history. Drury also clinched Tuesday from Cincinnati and put a charge on 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 was hit by a pitch to bring in Soto. Drury then drove the first pitch he saw from Kuhl to the left-center seats and the fans went wild. It was his second career grand slam and 21st home run this season.
“I was running on adrenaline,” Drury said. “The fans were incredible tonight. First time at bat, with the bases loaded, he ran with 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. He was warming up and he was kind of pumped up, ready to go. It was definitely an amazing day.”
During the pregame hitters’ meeting, Melvin told the players, “It’s going to be like this. It really has been all has been all year. When you bring in guys like this, you take it to a different level. We just wanted to let you know that this is going to be great.
“Even before we went out on the field,” Melvin said. “It seemed like the place was packed before the game even started. It was weird.”
Soto singled, walked twice, scored once and missed twice. Bell walked twice and scored twice.
Melvin said Soto “seems to bring some energy. You see him coming back at first base with ground balls; there’s a lot of things he brings to the table. Obviously on base, what he does swinging the bat. The fans seemed to pick up on it very quickly. It’s one of those guys that has a lot of energy around him and I think everyone felt that today.”
Snell had a third straight good start. He held the Rockies to one run on four hits in six innings with no walks. All four of his wins this season have come in his last five starts. After receiving only 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 on eight hits in five innings, striking out four and walking three.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Rockies LZ Kyle Freeland (6-7, 4.63 ERA) and Padres LZ Joe Musgrove (8-4, 2.65) are scheduled to start Thursday afternoon as San Diego looks for a five-game sweep.