As platoon-obsessed as the Giants are, there was nothing that could deny inserting Joc Pederson back into the starting lineup on Wednesday.
One sleep removed from a three-home run, eight RBI performance that lifted the Giants to a thrilling 13-12 victory, Pederson is starting against left-handed starter Thomas Szapucki. The Giants normally deploy Pederson in favorable matchups, but special circumstances — such as a career night sparked by a conversation with Barry Bonds — make deviating from the typical plan appropriate.
“That’s just strictly self-preservation on my part,” manager Gabe Kapler said with a smile pregame.
All three of Pederson’s homers, plus his game-tying hit in the ninth inning, came against right-handed pitchers. In his career, Pederson has a .837 OPS against righties but a .607 OPS versus southpaws.
“I’m all good with trying to get the platoon advantage whenever possible, but I also want to survive the day,” Kapler said.
Entering Tuesday, Pederson was 4-for-45 in May. He had just one home run in the month. Then came his eighth, ninth and 10th of the year.
The Giants are riding with Pederson’s hot hand. They’re counting that he’s just seeing the ball so well — in Kapler’s words, that he knows exactly where the sweet spot of his barrel is — matchups won’t matter.
New York’s starter, Szapucki, has only made one career big league appearance prior to Wednesday. He allowed six earned runs in 3.2 innings in his debut last season. Pederson could add to that damage.
“I believe in a player being confident coming off a big game,” Kapler said. “Stepping into the batter’s box the next day and feeling good about themself. Does that always translate into success? No it doesn’t. But it probably gives you a marginal advantage rather than not feeling good about yourself. If I had to choose between more confidence or less confidence, I’d probably choose the former.”
- Reliever Jake McGee is back with the team and will travel with the club to Cincinnati. He and the Giants are encouraged by his performance in three rehab appearances. He said his velocity and deception on his fastball have returned, and the back tightness that stemmed from a couple long innings has subsided. He’s expected to be activated when he’s eligible to come off the 15-day IL, on Friday.
- The Giants optioned third baseman Kevin Padlo to make room for infielder Donovan Walton. Walton is starting at shortstop, giving Brandon Crawford a day off. Crawford, who hit the walk-off single on Tuesday night, is fine and will enjoy two straight rest days.
- Evan Longoria was unavailable on Tuesday night after jamming his left shoulder — the same one that sidelined him for over two months last year — but is in Wednesday’s starting lineup.