Giants

The Mac Williamson Show rolls on: 'It's been fun to watch'

The Mac Williamson Show rolls on: 'It's been fun to watch'

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. 

What happens to Williamson when Pence returns? Bochy addresses issue

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USATSI/AP

What happens to Williamson when Pence returns? Bochy addresses issue

SAN FRANCISCO — The outfielders met on the field before batting practice Tuesday to do some extra throwing, and in left field Mac Williamson and Hunter Pence stood side by side. That’s fine at 4:15 p.m., but how will it work when Pence is healthy and both are eligible to play left?

“We’ll cross that bridge when Hunter is ready and we think he’s ready,” Bochy said. “They always tell you it’s a good problem, so hopefully we have a good problem here.”

Pence took early BP and later joined in with the regular session, and his thumb is said to be feeling good. He’ll be eligible to start a rehab assignment before the end of the homestand and Bochy said he would need a few games in San Jose or Sacramento. 

After that … it gets complicated. 

The issue isn’t as much about playing them both as it is about fitting both on the roster. Williamson has two monstrous homers in four starts and anything close to that production will keep him around. The Giants are in desperate need of that kind of game-changing talent. Pence was batting .172 at the time he was put on the disabled list with no homers. 

Austin Jackson is batting just .211 and was out of the leadoff spot Monday, but he was brought in as the starting center fielder and his problems don’t appear to be health-related. Gregor Blanco has a .817 OPS and is leading off against some right-handers. Gorkys Hernandez has a .708 OPS in limited time and Bochy likes his versatility as a defensive replacement. 

Throw in Andrew McCutchen and that’s six outfielders for five spots, and the Giants are not going to keep six outfielders on the active roster. These things often sort themselves out, and there’s some time before Pence is back and done with his rehab assignment, but an awkward situation doesn’t appear to be clearing anytime soon.

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Ross' two HRs in Game 1 of 2010 NLCS vs Mike Ivie GS off Don Sutton

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AP

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Ross' two HRs in Game 1 of 2010 NLCS vs Mike Ivie GS off Don Sutton

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports Bay Area is looking back at the Giants' 60 Memorable Moments since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco. Tune into Giants Pregame Live at 6pm to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Nationals conclude, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round! Make your vote count!

1. Cody Ross' two home runs off Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the 2010 NLCS (Four-time winner -- defeated First game in San Francisco -- An 8-0 win over the Dodgers at Seals Stadium in 1958)

(From Cody Ross)

'Best memory out of the 60 hands down'

In Game 1 of the NLCS we had the hardest matchup that we were going to face the entire playoffs. We were staring down the Late Roy Halladay, who in my opinion was the best pitcher I’ve ever faced. He threw a Perfect Game against me when I was on the Marlins earlier in the year and was coming off a no-hitter in the NLDS against the Reds in his previous start. Not to mention he’s a 2x Cy Young award winner and an 8x All-Star. 

As I walk to the plate in the 3rd inning of a 0-0 game I’m realizing Roy has not given up a hit yet again. He was one of those pitchers who had a chance to throw a no-hitter every time he took the mound. That’s how good he was. Up until this point, I had tried every approach with little-to-no success against him. I tried to work the counts and see pitches, stay inside the ball and hit it the other way, stay up the middle, etc etc... none of these seemed to get the job done. Finally that cold October night I said to myself, “Just try and hit a home run”... and all of a sudden on a 1-1 count I swung as hard as I could and “Bang! A HR!” The best contact I’d ever had against Roy and I was just as surprised as anybody in the ballpark or the millions watching on TV. I couldn’t feel my legs running around the bases and couldn’t believe what just happened. It was the first hit he had given up in the playoffs and it was a go-ahead home run to put us up 1-0 with Tim Lincecum also throwing a gem. 

As I stepped up to the plate in the top of the 5th the game was tied 1-1. At this point I had a ton of confidence and felt like nobody could get me out. I went with the same approach of trying to hit a home run and on a 2-0 pitch the unthinkable happened again! Hard contact and I see the ball flying over the left field fence. I took a peek at Roy and he was in disbelief just as I was. 

There are many memorable playoff HR stories but it’s hard to find one against one of the most dominating pitchers in this era. It will definitely go down as one of my greatest baseball memories. I hope all the Giants fans enjoyed it as much as I did.

VS.

2. Mike Ivie's grand slam off Don Sutton in front of record crowd at Candlestick in 1978

(From Alex Pavlovic)

The Giants sold out AT&T Park for 530 consecutive games this decade, but those crowds didn’t compare to the one that was on hand when Mike Ivie led a thrilling win over the Dodgers on May 28, 1978. 

In front of 56,103 at Candlestick Park, Ivie hit a grand slam off Don Sutton. With the Giants trailing 3-1 in the sixth, Ivie pinch-hit for shortstop Vic Harris. Darrell Evans, Jack Clark and Larry Herndon had all singled to load the bases before Ivie’s slam, which was the big blast in a 6-5 win. 

The pinch-hit homer was part of a trend. Ivie, a former first-round pick of the Padres, was 12 for 31 as a pinch-hitter in 1978, with four homers and 20 RBI. Ivie had a more consistent role the next season and hit 27 homers.

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