A raucous sellout crowd of 44,652 jammed Petco Park Wednesday night to see Juan Soto make his San Diego debut. But the superstar outfielder was a minor factor in the Padres’ 9-1 demolition of the Rockies and starter Chad Kuhl.
Instead, Brandon Drury, another newcomer to the powerhouse lineup stole the showing hitting a grand slam on the first pitch he saw wearing a Padres uniform. National League MVP candidate Manny Machado and left-hander Blake Snell co-starred for the Padres.
Soto, acquired from Washington at Tuesday’s trade deadline as part of a blockbuster deal, hit 1-for-3 and walked twice.
For Kuhl, the summer meltdown continued. The same goes for the Rockies, who lost their fifth straight, tumbled to 3-11 since the All-Star break, and are a season-worst 15 games under .500 (46-61).
Kuhl, so good early in the season, got the full Charlie Brown treatment. The Padres torched the right-hander for nine runs on eight hits, including three home runs.
Kuhl was 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA over his five starts. He’s now 6-7 with a 5.16 ERA. He has a 5.89 ERA over his last 13 starts, and of the 80 hits he’s allowed, 33 have gone for extra bases.
Kuhl suffered a nightmarish first inning. He issued a one-out, four-pitch walk to Soto, who advanced to third on Machado’s screeching double. Kuhl loaded the bases by walking Josh Bell — another trade deadline acquisition — and hit Jake Cronenworth to force in another run.
Then Drury, acquired from Cincinnati at Tuesday’s trade deadline, roped his slam to left, becoming the first player in Padres history to hit a grand slam in his first plate appearance with the team. He clobbered Kuhl’s first-pitch, 85 mph slider.
Kuhl settled in, for a bit, until the nightmare returned in the fifth inning. Machado, who finished a triple short of the cycle, led off with a homer to left-center. Then Jake Cronenworth tagged Kuhl for a two-run homer. Kuhl has served up 10 home runs in his last six starts.
Snell allowed one run on four hits, struck out nine, and walked none. The Rockies have roughed up Snell at Coors Field where he owns an unsightly 7.84 ERA in five starts. But in three starts against the Rockies at Petco, Snell improved to 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA.
The Rockies scored their lone run in the third. Yonathan Daza led off with a single and Elehuris Montero, who started at third base hit a double to left. On a 12-pitch battle with Snell, Charlie Blackmon hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Daza. Blackmon’s 12-pitch at-bat was the longest by a Rockies’ hitter this season.
The Padres, with all-star Joe Musgrove on the mound, will attempt to complete a rare five-game series sweep on Thursday afternoon.
Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (6-7, 4.63 ERA) at Padres RHP Joe Musgrove (8-4, 2.65)
2:10 p.m. Thursday, Petco Park
Radio: 850 AM/94.1 FM
Freeland is in a good place, picking up two wins against two very good teams. On July 25 at Milwaukee, he pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out seven, marking the first time since 2018 that he pitched at least seven scoreless innings with at least seven strikeouts. He wasn’t quite as sharp last week against the Dodgers at Coors Field, but he still beat Los Angeles, allowing three runs across six innings with no walks and six strikeouts. He outpitched Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw. Freeland is 2-0 against San Diego in three starts this season, posting a 5.82 ERA. In 18 career games (16 starts) against San Diego, he’s 5-5 with a 4.30 ERA.
Musgrove will make his first start since signing a five-year, $100 million contract extension with the Padres. The right-hander grew up in the San Diego area and is the first pitcher in Padres history to earn a $100 million contract. He also threw the first no-hitter in franchise history, at Texas on April 9, 2021. He has 114 strikeouts and just 27 walks in his 18 starts this season. The first-time all-star has pitched well against Colorado, going 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA in seven career starts.
Trending: Shortstop Jose Iglesias is rolling. He entered Wednesday night’s game hitting .500 (11-for-22) during a six-game hitting streak. Since July 4, he’s slashing .375/.411/.534 with 11 multi-hit games.
At issue: The Rockies have a major league-leading 22 losses in games in which they have recorded 10 or more hits, leading the second-place Cubs (17) by five losses (17).
Friday: Rockies RHP German Marquez (6-9, 5.29) at Diamondbacks TBA, 7:40 p.m., ATTRM
Saturday: Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-6, 4.87) at Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly (10-5, 2.87), 6:10 p.m., ATTRM
Sunday: Rockies RHP Jose Urena (1-3, 4.60) at Diamondbacks RHP Zach Davies (2-4, 4.28), 2:10 p.m., ATTRM