SAN DIEGO – The sellout crowd came to cheer Juan Soto in his first game against the San Diego Padres. It was crazy when Brandon Drury hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw with his new team.
Feeding off the energy from Soto and the crowd, the new-look Padres cruised to a 9-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night at Petco Park.
The crowd of 44,652 was enthralled before the game even started, giving Soto a standing ovation when he jogged to his position in right field in the first inning and then again when he approached the plate. He drew a walk to start a five-run rally that was capped by Drury’s grand slam.
“It’s a very cool feeling. It brings a lot of emotion to me,” said Soto, a 23-year-old talent whose acquisition along with Josh Bell in a blockbuster trade with Washington shocked both the team and the city. “It’s amazing how happy they are for me. They gave us the energy to go out there and play hard.
Before the game, Soto, one of the game’s best young hitters, said he was happy Bell was included in the trade. The two were flown to San Diego on a private plane on Tuesday evening.
“I never realized I would be traded along.” I must have been thinking about myself,” Soto said. “When I found out I was coming with Josh, we have a great relationship, I was more excited and more fired up because he’s coming and I know the kind of guy he is and what he brings to the table. I am very happy to share another club with him.
Manny Machado, who has carried the Padres for most of the season, hit a triple in the fifth as San Diego won its fifth straight. Jake Cronenworth pitched a two-run inning. The biggest beneficiary 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-look lineup, with Soto at second and Bell at second, the day after they were acquired Tuesday in one of the biggest deadline deals of all time. Drury was also acquired from Cincinnati on Tuesday and added to the already festive atmosphere with a grand slam against Chad Kuhl 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 into the seats in left-center, and the fans went wild. It was his second career Grand Slam and his 21st homer of the season.
“I was just running on adrenaline,” Drury said. “The fans were incredible tonight. First out, bases loaded, I was just running on pure adrenaline. It’s really nice to be here. It was pretty special to me.”
Drury said he came out to stretch 25 minutes before the game “and the fans just went crazy. I was warmed up there and I was kind of pumped up, ready to go. It really was a wonderful day.”
Melvin told the players during the pregame hitters’ meeting, “It’s going to be like this. It’s really been that way all year. When you bring in guys like that, it takes it to another level. We just wanted to let them know it was going to be pretty cool.
“That was before we even took the field,” Melvin said. “The place seemed to be packed even before the game started. It was rare.”
Soto singled, walked twice, scored once and walked two. Bell walked twice and scored twice.
Melvin said Soto “looks energizing. You see him back off on ground balls at first base; there’s just a lot he brings to the table. It’s obviously based on what he does when he swings the bat. The fans seemed to embrace very quickly. He’s just one of those guys that has a lot of energy and I think everybody felt that today.
Soto is under contract for two seasons beyond this year and said he isn’t thinking about anything beyond that.
“I’m just thinking about winning,” he said before the game. “I just come to this clubhouse to bring the energy that I have, all the good emotions that I have to bring here to win.”
As for Snell, he made his third straight start. He held the Rockies to one run and four hits in six innings with no walks. His four 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 on eight hits, struck out four and walked three in five innings.