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Juan Soto returns to Nationals Park as opposing player after trade, leads Padres to dominant win

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Just 10 days ago, the Washington Nationals traded superstar right fielder Juan Soto to the San Diego Padres in a deal that also sent Josh Bell to the Padres and Luke Voit to the Nationals. 

Given that they play in different divisions, the Padres only visit the Nationals in D.C. for one series per year. In a fun coincidence, the Padres one trip to Nationals Park this season comes this weekend. The three-game series kicked off on Friday. 

The Padres would win in blowout fashion, beating the hapless Nats, 10-5. They did so on the strength of a seven-run fifth, and Soto made his presence felt in a big way in that inning. 

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The Padres took a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Then it was time for the game to be broken open. Soto followed a Jurickson Profar leadoff walk with a double. He would then be driven home by Manny Machado’s double. The inning was still going when Soto’s spot in the lineup came up again. This time, he hit a line drive to left for an RBI single. 

When the inning finally ended, it was 8-0 Padres. Soto was 2 for 2 with a double, run and a RBI in that inning alone. 

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Unsurprisingly, Soto’s return was front and center from early in the night. 

He prepared a video message for Nationals fans: 

“Nationals fans, thank you. Thank you for everything, thank you for being there for me, cheering for me,” Soto said. “Even when we weren’t in the best moments as a team, you guys were there, every single day and I appreciate that. I love you all, even if I have another team’s uniform, I’m gonna still love you guys. Thank you. You guys made me who I am today and I hope I see you guys soon.”  

Here is Soto heading to the plate for his first at-bat as an opposing player along with the ovation from the Nationals faithful. 

Soto would foul out down the left-field line there. He would go 2 for 6 overall on the night, but he did all his work in the inning that was the difference in the game. 

The Padres had a busy day. Just before the game started, news broke that star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has been suspended for 80 games for a violation of the Joint Drug Agreement, specifically for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. 

The Padres are now 64-51, sitting in the third NL wild card spot. 

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