Prior to the San Francisco Giants Thursday night game against the Chicago Cubs, I listed Joc Pederson as a player to watch, and wrote this:
Pederson is a career .244/.342/.498 hitter against the Giants, but it feels like he’s been even more of a Giants killer than that. With San Francisco throwing all four of their right-handed starters against Chicago, the hometown slugger will have a chance to add to that reputation.
On the first pitch of the game — the very first pitch — Pederson did this.
I felt a little prophetic, and I wasn’t sure whether Pederson’s impressive swing mixed with Steven Duggar’s magnificent catch made me feel better or worse.
The glass half full view was that Pederson had gotten his home run out of his system and it hadn’t even hurt the Giants.
The glass half empty view was that Pederson was, indeed, a Giants killer, and they wouldn’t get so lucky next time.
They wouldn’t get so lucky next time.
Literally, next time.
.@yungjoc650 sends one swimming!#CubTogether pic.twitter.com/O7BWe9KG2c— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 4, 2021
It was at this point in the game that I did not feel great about the Giants chances of winning. The Giants are a good team, and very capable of overcoming a 2-1 deficit in the third inning while at home. But there’s something about saying hey, watch out for this guy, he might hit homers against you, and then watching him immediately do it that makes the entire outcome feel a tad inevitable. It’s what I imagine all those hitters felt while watching Sergio Romo yell hey, I’m gonna mix it up and throw you a slider here at them.
And then the Giants did the one thing that always single-handedly restores not just my faith in the team, but also in humanity: clutch pitcher hits.
Anthony DeSclafani, after failing to come through in the second inning with the bases loaded and one out, came up with one on and two out in the fourth inning and promptly ... smashed one off the bricks.
How many times in the history of
Pac Bell SBC AT&T Oracle Park has a pitcher hit one off the bricks? A right-handed hitting pitcher, at that? And yes, I know it one hopped the bricks, but still.
A DeSclafani double makes it a tie game pic.twitter.com/6Q4r1YpMKk— SFGiants (@SFGiants) June 4, 2021
It tied the game and suddenly I thought the Giants would win.
The Giants won.
They needed more offense though, and unfortunately, the standard places to turn were not available. San Francisco entered the season with four left-handed hitters who they expected to be comfortably above-average hitters: Brandon Belt, Mike Yastrzemski, Tommy La Stella, and Alex Dickerson.
Against a quartet of Chicago righties, the Giants had to face the unfortunate reality that three of those names are on the IL and the fourth is having an awful year.
But the Cubs had to face the reality that no, actually, those haven’t been the Giants best left-handed hitters; Brandon Crawford has been. And they faced that reality head on when Crawford blasted his 12th homer of the year. To the deepest part of the yard. On a 3-0 pitch.
He is the best. pic.twitter.com/jMQOI1QaD5— SFGiants (@SFGiants) June 4, 2021
That gave the Giants the lead, and with the way things had swung, it even felt like a safe lead, despite the bullpen foibles that have been the only blemish on an otherwise brilliant campaign.
But there were no foibles. After DeSclafani allowed just 4 hits, 0 walks, and 2 runs in 6 innings, Jarlin García was brilliant for 2 more, and Zack Littell threw a 9-pitch, 9-strike ninth. The Giants even added on some insurance runs ... you know, for the run differential.
A 7-2 win, and another day on top of the NL West.