There were plenty of people ready to pile on Juan Soto and the San Diego Padres after the 24-year-old outfielder made a bold statement about how his team would fare against Shohei Ohtani on the mound. As it turns out, Soto was spot on with his words and may have stoked the fire Padres fans have been waiting to see all season.
San Diego Padres live up to Juan Soto's bold statement
Flash back to Monday when the Padres and Angels were just getting ready to begin their three-game set at Petco Park. San Diego limped back into town after a 1-5 road trip through Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and the Friar Faithful wondered if this team could find any kind of life before the All-Star break.
That's when Soto looked into the future and saw good things.
When asked on Monday about facing Ohtani on Tuesday (never mind the Padres still had a game to play on Monday night), Soto didn't hold back on Ohtani's feats this season (as well as a little soothsaying) by uttering the words (at the 1:11 mark), "It's impressive, but he's going to have trouble facing this lineup tomorrow."
Oh my did people hop on that quote, pointing out San Diego's recent struggles at the plate and inability to string together hits when it mattered most. But ... as it turns out ... Soto was spot on.
Not only did the Padres win on Monday night, but also did indeed do damage against Ohtani, hitting a pair of home runs and tagging him for five runs and seven hits in 5.0 innings on their way to an 8-5 win. Throw in a 5-3 victory on Wednesday and it all equates into San Diego's first three-game sweep of the season.
Oh sure, the naysayers will point to how Soto also said in that interview that he "won’t be scared to shuffle his a--" when he and Ohtani faced off (and Soto struck out twice against him). However, while Soto may have personally struggled on Tuesday, his confidence may have finally ignited something in the San Diego clubhouse.
San Diego needed something, anything, to get the season trending in the right direction, and if a little bravado is what it took, then so be it. Padres fans have been wanting that all season.
After an off day on Thursday, Padres fans are hoping that swagger is still there when the New York Mets come to town tomorrow for the final three-game series before the All-Star break. A sweep of the scuffling Mets could get the Padres back to two games below .500 and maybe be a sign that all pitchers moving forward are actually (finally) going to have trouble facing this lineup.