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Padres Trade Deadline Acquisitions Come Up Big To Even NLCS



SAN DIEGO — The Padres waited all season for their offensive trade deadline acquisitions to get going. In arguably the team’s most important game yet, they finally came through.

Brandon Drury homered and drove in the go-ahead runs, Josh Bell homered and drove in a pair and Juan Soto hit the game-tying RBI double during a furious rally, carrying the Padres to an 8-5 comeback win in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday afternoon. The series is tied 1-1 and heads to Philadelphia on Friday.

The Padres scored eight consecutive runs to erase an early 4-0 deficit and salvage a split of the series’ first two games. Drury and Bell got the comeback started with back-to-back homers off Phillies ace Aaron Nola in the second inning and the Padres rallied for five runs in the fifth, capped by their trade deadline trio all delivering run-scoring hits. It gave the Padres their first lead of the series and all but ensured they wouldn’t face the daunting task of going to Philadelphia down 0-2 in the series.

“I feel like it's what we had envisioned when we first got traded over here,” Bell said. “We showed some bits and pieces collectively that we could put runs on the board and in other games we didn't. But for the most part, our pitching staff is so good all we’ve got to do is score a couple of runs for them. We were able to do that today.”

Soto, Drury and Bell all played starring roles in the fifth-inning rally. After Austin Nola delivered an RBI single off his brother to cut the Padres deficit to 4-3, Soto drilled the game-tying RBI double into the right field corner off of Aaron Nola to make it 4-4. Three batters later, Drury fought through a seven-pitch at-bat to deliver the go-ahead, two-run single into center field off reliever Brad Hand. Bell followed with a scorching RBI single down the right-field line to cap the rally and send Hand from the game.

After trading two veterans and five prospects to acquire the trio, including three Top 100 Prospects, it was exactly the type of timely impact the Padres hoped they were getting.

“Those guys are here for a reason and they all have track records,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “You look at their numbers over the course of this year and they're all good. Those are the guys we're gonna keep running out there.”

To date, the trades had not delivered the return the Padres hoped for.

Soto hit .236 with six home runs in 52 games with the Padres after the blockbuster trade that sent the largest prospect haul in decades back to the Nationals. He continued to demonstrate his mastery of the strike zone with a .388 on-base percentage, but he overwhelmingly failed to impact the ball and had just a .390 slugging percentage. Add in MLB-worst defense in right field, and Soto’s performance had quickly became a source of discontent in San Diego.

His postseason performance hadn’t done much to quell that displeasure. Though Soto delivered some big moments, including the game-tying RBI single in the Padres’ furious rally in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, he entered Wednesday batting .226/.294/.258 in the postseason with as many strikeouts as hits (seven). He lost a fly ball in the sun that extended the Phillies four-run second inning on Wednesday, furthering his postseason struggles.

Bell and Drury, meanwhile, hadn’t been much better. Bell hit .192/.316/.271 with three home runs in 53 games after joining the Padres and was 3-for-23 in the postseason, including striking out as the go-ahead run at the plate to end Game 1. Drury hit .238/.290/.435 after being traded from the Reds and was 1-for-15 in the postseason.

But with breakthrough performances at a critical juncture in the NLCS, they made the steep prospect price the Padres paid to acquire them seem worth it.

“I don't think anybody here thinks of it like that, including Josh and Juan,” Drury said. “I think we're all just playing to win. We're not thinking of it as like the separate trade guys that are playing good or whatever. It's just about the Padres winning.”

“There was a lot of expectations thrown at these guys the minute they got over here,” Melvin added. “And you know, it's sometimes a little unfair. But you know, here we are, we're still playing and these guys are coming up big like they did in today's game. It doesn't surprise me.”

Now, the series turns to Philadelphia, where the Phillies went 47-34 during the regular season—compared to 40-41 on the road—and outscored the Braves 17-4 over two dominant wins to close out the NL Division Series. Since Citizen’s Bank Park hosted its first playoff game in 2007, the Phillies have the highest postseason winning percentage at home of any team in MLB.

The Padres will send all-star righthander Joe Musgrove to the mound, giving them the starting pitching edge over Phillies lefthander Ranger Suarez. But for the Padres to win in Philadelphia and eventually achieve their World Series dreams, they’re going to have to keep getting the performances from their headline acquisitions like the ones they got in Game 2.

After what transpired on Wednesday, there is now a greater reason to believe that will happen.

“It's just a matter of getting the bats going,” Bell said. “And if we can get the bats going and can stay hot offensively, I don't think there's a team that can beat us.”

Trent Grisham

Padres Move One Win Away From Vanquishing Dodgers Demons

The Padres beat the Dodgers, 2-1, on Friday night to move one win away from beating them in the National League Division Series.

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