In his press conference earlier on Wednesday after officially joining the Padres, Juan Soto made a statement about the Padres lineup: “It’s going to be really tough to go through. I wish good luck to the other pitchers.”
Even though it seems like that statement was directly aimed at Chad Kuhl, who gave up five runs, including a grand slam in the first inning on the way to surrendering a total of three homers and nine runs, it’s safe to say Kuhl won’t be the only pitcher to meet this fate.
This was a painful night for Rockies fans. This is the new Padres and they are in a good position to do some damage in this final two-month stretch of the season.
Kuhl jumpstarts the Soto-Bell-Drury era
While San Diego fans jammed into a sold-out Petco Park primarily to see the young phenom Soto, they didn’t have to wait long to see some action. However, the most excitement came not from Soto, who drew a four-pitch walk after receiving a standing ovation welcome before his first at-bat, but from newly acquired, former-Red Brandon Drury. Following Soto’s walk, Kuhl gave up a double over Yonathan Daza’s head in center field to Manny Machado, walked Josh Bell, and then hit Jake Cronenworth with a pitch to bring around the first San Diego run. But it got worse as Drury smashed his first pitch as a Padres 402 feet to center field.
After one inning of the new Padres, they were up 5-0. On the bright side, Kuhl held the Padres scoreless for the next two innings, largely because he avoided more walks. Kuhl gave up one more run in the fourth when Jorge Alfaro led off with a single and Rockies killer Trent Grisham doubled him home. Kuhl was hit hard again in the fifth inning when Machado hit a solo shot to center and Jake Cronenworth followed with a two-run homer after Bell drew another walk. Just like that, it was 9-1.
Kuhl has now given up 10 home runs in his last six games as his hot start to the season has faded to a distant memory. Kuhl’s final line: 9 runs, 8 hits, 3 HR, 3 BB, and 2 SO in 5 innings. His ERA is now at 5.16 and he’s given up 19 runs in his last three games (11 innings).
Blake Snell straight up dominated Colorado on Thursday night. In six innings, he struck out nine Rockies, including José Iglesias, C.J. Cron, and Randal Grichuk twice each. He walked no one. He also held the Rockies to one run on four hits. The first of those hits came in the third inning when Daza led off with a single. After Connor Joe was retired on a fly ball to deep center field, Elehuris Montero hit a double to move Daza to third. In an incredible 12-pitch at-bat, Charlie Blackmon then hit a sac fly for the only Rockies run of the game. Brendan Rodgers and Cron each added a single in the fourth and sixth innings respectively. The Rockies added two more singles against the bullpen, getting one more single each from Cron and Daza, but ended the game with 12 strikeouts (three of which belonged to Grichuk) and left six runners on base.
Smith shines after callup, bullpen solid
Chad Smith was called up on Wednesday and made the most of it by throwing two scoreless innings. Smith struggled in his previous two appearances when he gave up seven runs in 2 1⁄3 innings, but despite entering the game with an 18.90 ERA, he didn’t even give up a hit. Facing the 9-1-2-3 hitters in the sixth inning, Smith forced two groundouts and one fly out with the only blemish being a walk to Soto. In the seventh, despite hitting Cronenworth, Smith struck out the side. By the time he left the game in the eighth inning, he had lowered his ERA by more than a third to 11.91. Carlos Estévez followed Smith’s lead, striking out the side in the eighth sandwiched around a single by Soto, his first hit as a Padre.
Don’t go on Joe
In the last three games against the Padres, Connor Joe has shown his prowess in left field. First, he should have gotten an assist in Game 1 on Tuesday after firing in a rocket to get Wil Myers at home, but the out was overturned through a lack of logic and MLB using a rule that didn’t apply to the play. He finally got a good call to go his way later in that game when he threw out Nomar Mazara when he tried to stretch a single into a double. Joe then did it again on Wednesday in the third when it looked like Machado had hit his second double of the game — this time off the left-field wall — but Joe caught it off the wall and gunned it in to throw out Machado. Best of all, this all happened with Joe’s parents watching in seats behind home plate.
Connor Joe throws out Manny Machado at second base pic.twitter.com/BawZpo74SX— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) August 4, 2022
Joe wasn’t the only one to flash a fancy glove in the game. In the sixth inning, Iglesias made a great grab to rob Jurickson Profar of a single and then Rodgers ended the inning by taking a single away from Machado.
Another day, another terrific play by Brendan Rodgers pic.twitter.com/I126CwiYKc— RoxGifsVids (@RoxGifsVids) August 4, 2022
The Rockies will conclude this five-game series (that has felt more like 27) with the Padres on Thursday. Kyle Freeland (6-7, 4.63 ERA) will take on Joe Musgrove (8-4, 2.65 ERA) in a game with a 2:10 p.m. MT start time.