Sure, Juan Soto walked on four pitches in his first at-bat as a Padre Wednesday and started a one-out, first inning rally. But the newcomer who gave the already amped Petco Park crowd a thrill – that would be Brandon Drury.
The former Cincinnati Red hit a grand slam in his first appearance as a Friar, staking the team to a five-run lead that the Padres never relinquished as they took their fourth straight from the Colorado Rockies, 9-1.
The full house at Petco, already primed to see Soto, was rewarded quickly.
Soto’s walk preceded a double by Manny Machado and a walk to the other new Padre acquired in the Washington Nationals trade, Josh Bell. The highly sought after outfielder also scored his first run in his new uniform after Rockies starter Chad Kuhl hit Jake Cronenworth in the foot.
That set up Drury’s at-bat, in which he pounced on the first pitch, sending it to the left field stands for his second career grand slam. The Padres added two more home runs, both in the fifth, a solo shot by Machado and a two-run blast by Cronenworth.
Soto played right field and batted second in the revamped Padres lineup, while Bell played first base and took the cleanup spot, and Drury, the DH, settled in the six-hole. Overall in their debuts:
- Soto went 1-for-3, with two walks and a run. His first Padre hit, a single, came with two out in the eighth.
- Bell went 0-for-2, with two walks and two runs scored.
- Drury went 1-for-3, with the decisive first inning big blow.
Blake Snell was the benefactor of the revamped Padre offense, as he improved to 4-5 after going six innings, striking out nine and giving up one run.
Manager Bob Melvin called Wednesday’s atmosphere at Petco “electric,” but the team’s been feeling it since the day before when news of the Soto acquisition broke.
“We knew this was coming, so it started yesterday, but today it took on a different level,” he said.
Soto, after days of fevered speculation about where he’d end up, kept it simple in a pre-game news conference, saying “I’m more than excited to join a winning team and be part of it.”
The Padres face the Rockies one more time Thursday, attempting a rare five-game sweep with Joe Musgrove on the mound, before heading to Los Angeles for what suddenly has become a far more interesting series.
Sean Manaea, Mike Clevinger and Yu Darvish are set to start against the NL-West leaders.