Juan Soto makes Padres start: Star outfielder records one hit, but teammates do heavy work in win

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

Soto finished second in the lineup, in front of MVP candidate Manny Machado and freshman cleanup man Bell.

The Padres would send their fans home very happy with a 9-1 win. Soto wasn’t the star of the show at the plate and instead, it was the rest of the Padres’ lineup that showed just how scary it could be around him. Before the game even started, it was a tumultuous event in San Diego. Announced attendance was 44,652, a sellout.

Eyewitness accounts described the atmosphere as “electric,” and Padres broadcasters noted several times that it was perhaps the most intense they had seen Petco Park. This is before the game starts.

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

He came to the plate in the bottom of the first with one out and the entire crowd stood. Many fans could be seen holding their phones to record the occasion. When Rockies pitcher Chad Kohl made it 3-0, the Padres faithful chanted “SOTO! SOTO! SOTO!” He was showered with boos before moving on to chants of

Soto certainly had the green light at the aforementioned 3-0, but ball four wasn’t even close. His first plate appearance with the Padres was a walk.

Of course, the walk ended up being the catalyst for a big inning. After a Soto walk, Machado doubled, Bell walked, Jake Cronworth was hit by a pitch and then Drury, on his first pitch as a Padre, hit a grand slam:

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

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

He finished 1 for 3 with two walks and one earned run. Even if he was overshadowed, it’s a great debut.

On the mound, Padres lefty Blake Snell continued his short 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 over six innings while striking out nine without issuing a walk. He ran into a little trouble in the third, but otherwise dominated.

Soto didn’t star in the game, but he didn’t need to. That’s the beautiful thing about baseball. He had a solid game while Machado, Croninworth and Dray fell. There will be games where Soto is the same star. The goal of acquiring Soto, Bell and Drury was to make the lineup as terrifying as possible. For day one with a new-look lineup, it was mission accomplished.

The Padres have now won five straight games and get the Rockies at home again on Thursday before traveling to LA for a three-game series against the first-place Dodgers.