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Reds get upper hand in first post-slap matchup for Tommy Pham

© Kelley L Cox | 2022 Jun 24

Less than a month after serving a three-game suspension for slapping Giants outfielder Joc Pederson across the face, Tommy Pham strolled into Oracle Park for his first action against the Giants of 2022. 

The Giants and Reds had 28 days to simmer down after the tiff that stemmed from a fantasy football argument. Pham thought Pederson was cheating by manipulating the injured reserve spot. Pederson took Pham’s frustration to the face, didn’t retaliate and gave unforgettably diplomatic statements to reporters. It was all so very bizarre. 

Since Pham was suspended for the rest of their first series following his attack, this weekend series in Oracle Park was the first time he’d face Pederson on the field. Curiosity swirled: would the situation come to a head with a Giants retaliation? 

In the end, there was no intentional plunking. No big pregame handshake. Pederson and Pham combined to go 0-for-8. The Reds, led by a dominant starting pitching effort from Graham Ashcraft, started the three-game series with a 4-2 win. It was the 10th straight game the Giants (38-32) have played that’s been decided by two or fewer runs; San Francisco has won four of them. 

The Pham-Pederson altercation became a phenomenon. Mike Trout, the league’s commissioner, got involved. Alex Bregman was revealed to be last year’s winner and Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy got involved. 

The comedic value of The Slap alone made it a deserving center of attention for a late-June game. 

The Giants had put the incident — and all the ensuing hullabaloo — behind them. Pederson said as much. Gabe Kapler reiterated it. They weren’t going to retaliate. It was time to forget about it. 

“It was an off-field issue, handled and moved on,” Pederson told reporters this week. “It’s in the rearview mirror.”

Some Reds players wore cartoonized “PHAM” shirts pregame. The slap was still on their minds. 

But Giants fans had no obligation to be so mature. They let Pham hear them all game, starting from pregame introductions, when he stepped into the on-deck circle for the first time and each inning out in left field. 

Booooo! Don’t sign up for left field, bro! Hey Tommy, how’s your mom? Tommy, you’re on the IR! 

Pham often acknowledged the bleachers, between at-bats and during half-inning warmups. He unapologetically took his three-game suspension — “Joc deserved to be slapped,” Pham said last week — and proceeded to hit .296 with five home runs in 19 post-slap games. 

But on Friday, Pham went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. The crowd cheered a extra enthusiastically when the outfielder grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third.

Apart from Evan Longoria’s solo home run — his sixth of the year — in the fourth inning, antagonizing Pham was just about all the 29,178 fans could get behind. 

SF fell behind 2-0 in the second inning. Brandon Crawford, in his first game back from suffering a left knee contusion from an awkward slide in Atlanta, committed his 10th error of the season — eclipsing his 2021 total. Crawford’s errant throw home in the fifth inning allowed a run to score, pushing Cincinnati’s lead to 3-1. 

Meanwhile, Ashcraft tore through SF’s order. The righty whose cutter touches 100 mph struck out eight while walking none in seven three-hit innings. Longoria’s home run was his only mistake.

Then in the eighth, two singles as Ashcraft’s pitch count ran into the 100s created what looked like a promising inning. But a double play stunted a potentially big rally, and SF came away with just one run. 

Pederson, leading off the ninth and facing Hunter Strickland with his team down 4-2, Pederson flew out to the right field warning track. 

There would be no hits, literal or figurative, involving Pederson or Pham. And no more hits in the ninth inning from the Giants’ order cemented the result. 

 

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