SAN DIEGO — It took them a few days to get acclimated, but these Padres are finally starting to look like the team they envisioned when they overhauled their offense at last week’s Trade Deadline.
Which is to say, their offense looks pretty darn scary — National League playoff contenders, beware.
“When you know you have a good lineup, you don’t worry about hitting the winning homer,” said newly acquired superstar Juan Soto. “You just pass the baton, let the other guys do their job, like we did yesterday, like we did today.”
It was a wild back-and-forth ballgame that saw the Padres quickly fall behind by four runs. They rallied to take a two-run lead with a six-run third inning, then relinquished that lead in the sixth.
The old Padres offense didn’t used to do this. Then again, the old Padres offense didn’t have Soto, Drury and Josh Bell.
“I think there’s just a different feeling now,” manager Bob Melvin said. “When you’re down, you don’t feel like it’s going to take a lot to come back.”
And, sure, the new-look Padres started slowly. They were swept by the Dodgers over the weekend and shut out by the Giants on Monday. All along, they insisted they’d be just fine. They simply had too much offensive firepower to be concerned.
“A lot of people don’t understand, when you get new guys, those guys can take a few days to really settle,” left fielder Jurickson Profar said. “And we expected that. It can be whoever. You can bring in Barry Bonds. It’s not going to click right away. With new teammates, they need to feel at home.
“Now we’re seeing it. We’re getting there.”
When he returns, Tatis will join a Padres offense that looks scary already. Soto and Drury had two hits apiece on Wednesday. Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth had three. Nola, batting ninth, started the third-inning rally with a 10-pitch walk, then ended the sixth-inning rally with a two-run homer. That level of lineup depth is infectious.
“One guy comes up, it’s a quality at-bat,” Cronenworth said. “The next guy comes up, quality at-bat. Next guy, quality at-bat. It just continues down the line, and it just seems like the pressure on the pitcher is so much.”
Said Profar: “You don’t have to do much. Just try to do your job, whatever your job is, and get it to the guy behind you. You saw what we can do. This is the team we’ve got. We can do this every day.”
With the win, the Padres remain a game ahead of Milwaukee in the race for the NL’s final Wild Card spot. They also crept a bit closer to Philadelphia, Atlanta and St. Louis. These next three weeks could prove crucial. San Diego doesn’t play another game against a team currently above .500 until September. In theory, it’s an opportunity to gain separation in the playoff race.
Next up: A trip to Washington and a reunion for Soto and Bell, who were traded to San Diego last week. Soto will presumably be feted all weekend. Deservedly so. He was at the center of the Nationals’ first World Series in 2019 and developed into a superstar during his time in D.C.
“That means a lot,” Soto said of his time in Washington. “I felt pretty comfortable in that city. It feels pretty good, the people, the fans, everybody was really nice to the players. So I felt comfortable. But at the end of the day, we’ve just got to do our job.”
Indeed, the one-time Nationals superstar is now the Padres’ superstar. And having ended one city’s World Series drought, he’s hellbent on ending another.
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