Juan Soto makes Padres debut: Star outfielder saves hit, but teammates do the heavy lifting in win

Just over 24 hours since a transaction that changed the landscape of Major League Baseball, the new-look San Diego Padres were in action in front of their fans. New acquisitions Josh Bell and Brandon Drury were both in the lineup, but, of course, the main course here – at least before the game started – was the Padres debut of 23-year-old superstar Juan Soto.

Soto placed second in the roster, ahead of MVP candidate Manny Machado and new cleaner Bell.

The Padres would send their fans extremely happy with a 9-1 victory. Soto wasn’t the star of the show at home plate and instead it was the rest of the Padres roster that showed just how scary it can be around him. From before the game started until the end, it was a noisy event in San Diego. Advertised attendance was 44,652, which is a sold-out sale.

Eyewitness accounts called the atmosphere “electric” and Padres broadcasters repeatedly noted that it was probably the most amplified they had ever seen at Petco Park. That was before the game even started.

Here’s Soto heading to right field for his first inning with the team.

He came to home plate with an out bottom first and the whole crowd was on their feet. Many fans could be seen holding their phones to register the occasion. When Rockies pitcher Chad Kuhl scored to 3-0, he was showered with boos before the Padres faithful broke into chants of “SOTO! SOTO! SOTO!”

Soto surely had the go-ahead on the aforementioned 3-0, but the fourth ball wasn’t even close. His first appearance at home plate with the Padres was on a walk.

Of course, that walk ended up being the catalyst for a huge inning. After Soto’s walk, Machado doubled, Bell walked, Jake Cronenworth was hit with a pitch, and then Drury, on his very first pitch as a Padre, hit a grand slam:

This round set the tone for the rest of the game. Machado would go 3 for 4 with a home run and a double. Cronenworth homered and drove home three runs. Trent Grisham completed an RBI double. Bell was on base twice and scored both times.

Soto fielded a right single for his first hit as Padre in the bottom of the eighth.

He finished 1 for 3 with two walks and a run scored. Even if it was overshadowed, it is a very good start.

On the mound, Padres left-hander Blake Snell continued his nice little run. In July, Snell went 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. On Wednesday, he allowed just one run on four hits in six innings while striking out nine without walking. He struggled a bit in the third, but otherwise dominated.

Soto didn’t play in the game, but he didn’t need to. That’s the beautiful thing about baseball. He had a perfectly solid game as Machado, Cronenworth and Drury went wild. There will be games where Soto is still the star. The purpose of acquiring Soto, Bell and Drury was to make the formation as fearsome as possible. For the first day with the new-look range, it was mission accomplished.

The Padres have now won five straight and bring the Rockies home Thursday morning before heading to Los Angeles for a three-game series against the first-place Dodgers.

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