SAN FRANCISCO — During his pre-game media session on Tuesday, Bruce Bochy was asked about the “elephant in the room.” What will he do with Mac Williamson when Hunter Pence is ready to come off the disabled list?
“That’s a big elephant,” Bochy joked.
These things do tend to settle themselves, and in the fifth inning against the Nationals, it looked like the most unfortunate resolution might be in play. Williamson went hard after a Bryce Harper pop-up in foul territory and slammed his head and neck into the padded wall alongside the home bullpen. He took a second to take inventory of his body and trainer Dave Groeschner walked him back to his position. When he got to the dugout, Williamson was given a quick concussion test. He came back fine.
There’s another way to settle a position battle, and Williamson showed it an inning later. His laser shot into the net beyond the center field wall was the difference in a 4-3 win over Washington. It was also his third homer in five starts since being recalled. He has three of the four hardest-hit homers of the season for the Giants in just 19 at-bats.
At the moment, there’s no way the Giants can think about removing Williamson from left field. If anything, Bochy needs to ponder moving him up in the order.
“We’ve talked about what a shot in the arm he’s been,” Bochy said. “It’s been fun to watch. Good for him, because he’s worked hard at it.”
Williamson’s offseason mechanical adjustments are well chronicled at this point. But the key Tuesday may have been the confidence that comes with making changes that click. In the past, coaches have been frustrated by an occasional lack of aggression in big spots. When Williamson came up with two outs in the sixth, he got a first-pitch curveball from Tanner Roark and smoked it towards the batter’s eye.
“Now his confidence is so high,” Bochy said. “He’s up here and having success here against good pitching. It’s something we need, a guy who can provide offense and power, and he’s more than done that.”
Williamson was not alone on this night. Brandon Belt, who recently made a swing adjustment of his own, homered for the fifth time in six games. Ty Blach overcame a bout of food poisoning that cost him nine pounds over the weekend and managed to give Bochy five innings. Reyes Moronta went two and got his first career win. Sam Dyson, relegated to mop-up duty early in the year, induced a big double play to get out of the eighth. Hunter Strickland shut it down for a second consecutive night.
The end result is a team that is now rolling. The Giants have taken back-to-back series from the Angels and Nationals. They are hitting for power and continue to pitch well. They’ll have their hands full Wednesday when they go up against Max Scherzer, but they have a new secret weapon, and Williamson hopes to be up for the task. He said he’s sure he’ll be sore once the adrenaline wears off, but he did not sound like a player who will need a day off. Any issues he had as he got up from the brutal-looking collision were not related to the bruise on his elbow or tweak to his calf.
“I was just a little frustrated that I didn’t come up with the play, to be honest,” he said. “I had it in my glove.”
He more than made up for it an inning later.