'I was flying': Joc's return sparks Giants to win vs. Mets

April 24th, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants finally have their first winning streak of 2023.

provided a key spark in his return from the injured list on Sunday, lining an RBI single in the first inning and scoring the winning run from first base on Mike Yastrzemski’s double in the bottom of the eighth to help the Giants rally for a 5-4 win over the Mets at Oracle Park.

The victory secured a split of this four-game series with the Mets and marked the first time the Giants (8-13) have won back-to-back games this year.

“Huge,” Pederson said. “It’s a playoff team over there. We’ve lost some games we should have won. It’s frustrating, but to build on it and beat a good team like that -- we can take that momentum and continue going.”

Pederson, who was activated off the 10-day IL after missing nine games with right wrist inflammation, found himself involved in the first and last big plays of a back-and-forth affair that featured four lead changes and a huge effort from San Francisco’s bullpen, which delivered 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball behind starter Ross Stripling.

Pederson hadn’t played since April 11, but he made an instant impact after sliding back into the designated hitter spot for the Giants, opening the scoring with a two-out RBI single off Mets right-hander Tylor Megill that rocketed just beyond the reach of a leaping Luis Guillorme at second base in the first. Pederson capped his eventful return with an entertaining trip around the bases in the eighth.

With the game tied, 4-4, Pederson drew a one-out walk off Mets reliever Drew Smith to set the table for Yastrzemski, who followed by ripping a double into the right-center-field gap. Third-base coach Mark Hallberg made what manager Gabe Kapler described as a “gutsy” call to wave home Pederson, who went into a tumbling, feet-first slide to beat Jeff McNeil’s throw to the plate and put the Giants ahead for good.

“I was flying,” Pederson said.

Pederson explained that he started wearing a brace on his right hand to protect his wrist when he runs the bases and didn’t want to risk further injury by going into a head-first slide, resulting in the rather inelegant finish.

“It wasn’t the most graceful,” said Stripling, who allowed three runs (two earned) over 3 1/3 innings in his first start since April 2. “It was funny because when he was running I was like, ‘Oh man, he’s moving. He looks good.’ And then he caps it off with a slide like that. I heard on the broadcast they said that was the opposite of a Trea Turner slide, which is about right. ... But we’ll take it all day.”

Closer Camilo Doval worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his second save of the year and shut the door for the Giants, who also got a solo homer from Thairo Estrada and RBIs from rookies Blake Sabol and Brett Wisely.

After dropping four of their first five series to start the year, things are starting to look up for the Giants, who are also expecting to get two key right-handed bats -- outfielders Mitch Haniger and Austin Slater -- back off the IL soon. Haniger (left oblique strain) and Slater (left hamstring strain) have yet to make their season debuts, but they should provide a huge boost for the Giants’ offense, which has struggled to hit opposing left-handed pitching over the first few weeks of the regular season.

San Francisco will face two more lefties, Jordan Montgomery and Steven Matz, in their upcoming four-game series against the Cardinals, so there’s a good chance Haniger and/or Slater will be ready to rejoin the lineup in the coming days.

“Hopefully we’ll get a few [players] back here soon and get healthy and start to show what we can do as a full team,” Stripling said. “Obviously, we feel like we’ve underperformed to start the year, but we’re like, what, three games back of the division? No one’s running away with it, so no reason to panic.”