Thursday, March 30

With 4 more HRs, SF Giants salvage home stand by clinching series vs. Mets

SAN FRANCISCO — There was no possible way, no imaginable scenario, that Joc Pederson and the Giants could find an encore Wednesday to match the maniacal back-and-forth with the Mets from the previous night, featuring three Joc Jams.

That wasn’t going to stop them from trying.

After mashing three home runs Wednesday night, Pederson did it again in his first trip to the plate Wednesday afternoon, barely 12 hours since his last one the night before. That was only the start of San Francisco’s onslaught in a 9-3 win over the Mets that clinched the three-game series with the NL East leaders and provided a positive spin on a homestand that couldn’t have started much worse.

“It’s huge. We built on the momentum from last night,” Pederson said. “That’s a World Series-caliber team.”

The Giants launched three more long balls in the first two innings, providing more than enough support for Jakob Junis in arguably the high point of an already impressive run of starts since joining the big club.

After harnessing his changeup in his previous outing, Junis mixed it effectively with his go-to slider to limit a Mets lineup that had exploded for 26 runs the previous two nights to just two over six innings before giving way to the bullpen. The only damage came on one mistake pitch that Francisco Lindor placed in the left-field seats in the sixth and a leadoff walk in the third that came around to score.

“He’s been instrumental to our success,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “If he does nothing else, he’s already helped us win several baseball games. I think we envisioned that he would come up and make very important starts for us. So he’s doing what we expected him to do, but he’s done it in a more sustained fashion.”

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The two runs Junis allowed managed to raise his rotation-best ERA to 2.76.

“There’s a good possibility that we lean on him going forward as one of our main starters in our rotation,” Kapler said of Junis, who started the season at Triple-A Sacramento.

At one point, spanning from the third inning of Tuesday night’s game through the second inning Wednesday, the Giants played nine innings and launched eight home runs.

Four of those came from Pederson in the span of six at-bats.

But it was a different player with a multi-homer game Wednesday.

After a jammed shoulder kept Evan Longoria from playing Tuesday night, he blasted the first pitch he saw Wednesday from Mets starter Thomas Szapucki over the wall in dead center. Longoria, maybe suffering from a bout of FOMO from the previous night, went deep again in his second at-bat only an inning later, with a high shot that looped down the left-field line.

“It’s been a while since I put together two good swings in a game, so that felt pretty good today,” Longoria said on NBC Sports Bay Area. “I knew it was going to take a little bit of time to settle in. I was hoping it would happen sooner and quicker, but it’s a long season. I’ve been making some hard contact that hasn’t landed, so just trying to build off those at-bats and keep moving forward.”

Longoria’s second home run immediately followed a similar blast to straightaway center from Mike Yastrzemski, giving the Giants their second set of back-to-back homers this season (and first off a non-position player, with Luis González and Joey Bart’s homers off Albert Pujols as the only others).

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Longoria has as many hits (4) in his past 12 at-bats as he did in his first 28 trips to the plate since returning from finger surgery, doubling his OPS, from .321 to .650, in the span of three games. Wednesday was the 20th multi-homer game of his career and his first since July 2019.

Yastrzemski’s home run extended his hitting streak to a team-best nine games. Yastrzemski has 13 hits — eight for extra bases — in his past 29 at-bats and also took the seventh walk of the stretch in his first trip to the plate Wednesday, scoring one of his two runs on Longoria’s three-run blast.

“One of the reasons we were successful last year was that our veteran players had signature and career years last year,” Kapler said. “In order for us to get where we want to go, it’s gonna have to be Crawford and Belt and Longo and Joc. Mike Yastrzemski falls into that category as well. It doesn’t have to be one of them every day, but we’re going to need to lean on those guys to have some big performances.”

Brandon Crawford got the day off after delivering the winning hit Tuesday night, so Pederson, Longoria and Yastrzemski picked up the slack.

It all amounted to one heck of a heel turn for the homestand.

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