Joc's 3 HRs, 8 RBIs lead Giants in MLB's game of the year

Slugger says pregame chat with Barry Bonds inspired breakout performance at plate

May 25th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- Joc Pederson grew up 30 miles south of Oracle Park in Palo Alto, where he idolized Giants legend Barry Bonds, a fellow left-handed slugger and Bay Area product. On Tuesday afternoon, Pederson got the chance to pick the brain of one of his favorite players, describing their pregame chat as “probably the best hitting conversation I’ve ever had.”

Inspired by Bonds, Pederson went on to deliver one of the greatest offensive performances in franchise history, crushing three home runs and collecting eight RBIs to help the Giants survive a wild comeback attempt from the Mets and snap their five-game skid with a 13-12 walk-off win.

“Just getting knowledge from such a good hitter and the way he thinks about baseball and hitting, it just helped connect some dots to free my mind up at the plate,” Pederson said. “I was able to put some good swings on pitches today.”

Pederson’s first two blasts, off right-hander Chris Bassitt, helped the Giants jump out to an 8-2 lead in the fifth inning, but the Mets erased the deficit and briefly went ahead, 11-8, by rallying for seven runs in the eighth against submariner Tyler Rogers.

Pederson countered with his career-high third shot of the game in the bottom of the inning, hammering a three-run homer into McCovey Cove to tie the game, 11-11.

The Mets regained the lead after Dominic Smith tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth, but Pederson responded yet again with a two-out, game-tying single off New York closer Edwin Díaz. That brought up Brandon Crawford, who ended the rollercoaster affair with a walk-off single to left field.

Pederson became the second Giant to register a three-homer game at Oracle Park, joining Pablo Sandoval, who accomplished the feat in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series against the Tigers. Pederson’s career-high eight RBIs also matched the San Francisco-era Giants record previously held by Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda and Crawford.

“It was probably the best offensive performance that I’ve ever been around,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

Pederson had emerged as the Giants’ hottest hitter early this year, blasting six home runs in his first 14 games before his torrid start was interrupted by a mild groin strain at the end of April.

Pederson missed only three games with the injury, but he struggled to regain his rhythm at the plate after returning to action. He entered Tuesday mired in a 5-for-49 (.106) slump over his previous 19 games, prompting him to seek out some advice from Bonds, whom he called “the best guy to ever touch a bat.”

Pederson and fellow outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. spent about half an hour talking with Bonds in the batting cage before shifting the conversation to clubhouse manager Mike Murphy’s office. By the time they finished chatting, it was 6:25 p.m., giving Pederson only 15 minutes to prepare for the game.

“I just put my pants on and jersey on,” Pederson said. “Normally that would cause a chaos rush or a panic, but for some reason, there was a calmness and a freedom. It just felt smooth. There weren’t any distractions. It was kind of cool.”

Right-hander Logan Webb said it was obvious that Pederson was locked in from the start, as he smoked a first-pitch cutter from Bassitt over the right-field arcade for a two-run shot in the third that set the stage for his unforgettable night.

“That guy is a clown,” Webb said. “He’s awesome. He was joking about it, after his first one, about talking to Barry. And then he hit the second and he hit the third. It was like, ‘Man, this guy, he’s something else.’ You’re not going to cheat him with anything. He’s trying to do that every at-bat.”

Pederson’s performance couldn’t have come at a better time for the Giants, who had been outscored 38-15 over their season-high-matching five-game skid as they struggled to overcome a wave of injuries to regulars like Wade, Brandon Belt, Curt Casali and Austin Slater.

“We all needed that,” Webb said. “That’s what made it so special.”