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How conversation with Bonds inspired Joc's historic game

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SAN FRANCISCO -- At 6:25 p.m on Tuesday evening, Joc Pederson finally looked to see what time it was. He was stunned when he realized the Giants were 20 minutes from the first pitch at Oracle Park, and he rushed out of Mike Murphy's office. He had to put his pants and jersey on. 

Pederson, like all hitters, has a finely-tuned routine to get his mind and swing ready before a game. But sometimes you're thrown off-script. Sometimes, as Pederson described it, you do "literally nothing" to prepare. Sometimes you find yourself having such a long conversation with Barry Bonds, one of your childhood idols, that it's moved from the batting cage to a small room tucked just inside the clubhouse entrance. Sometimes the ensuing chaos is worth it. 

"That's probably the best hitting conversation I've ever had," Pederson said.

It was so good that, for one night at least, it turned Pederson into Bonds.

Pederson hit three homers against the New York Mets and added a game-tying single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. When Brandon Crawford followed with his own single and Darin Ruf raced home, the Giants had a thrilling 13-12 win that snapped a five-game losing streak. 

They had it nearly entirely because of Pederson, who tied the San Francisco Giants record with eight RBI, three of which came on his third homer, a blast into McCovey Cove in the bottom of the eighth that tied the game after the Giants had given up seven runs in the top of the inning. 


"It was probably the best offensive performance that I've ever been around, considering all things, like big moments in the game, the necessity to be resilient even in that last at-bat against one of the tougher relievers in baseball," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It was the best individual performance I've seen."

That is not just hyperbole in the aftermath of a much-needed win. Kapler isn't prone to grand statements, anyway. This was, by any measure, one of the best offensive performances in franchise history and perhaps the best regular-season hitting display in Oracle Park's history. 

Pederson joined Pablo Sandoval as the only Giants to hit three homers in a game at Oracle Park, and he did it in dramatic fashion. His first two helped the Giants build a six-run lead, but Tyler Rogers gave all that and more back in the eighth when the Mets got eight singles and a triple. 

In the bottom of the inning, the visitors made a curious decision. Evan Longoria (jammed shoulder) wasn't available, but with two outs and two on in an 11-8 game, the Mets elected to let righty Drew Smith pitch to Pederson. It's always hard to tell what a team's true situation in the bullpen is, but the Mets did have two lefties down there, including one, Joely Rodriguez, who would later get into the game. 

Kapler was left with just struggling catcher Joey Bart and Monday afternoon call-up Stuart Fairchild on the bench, so Pederson would have hit no matter what, particularly given what he had already done. But the Mets didn't push for the platoon advantage and Pederson made them pay, blasting a 98 mph fastball into McCovey Cove. 

Pederson watched it fly, then turned quickly to glance at Smith, and then watched the ball fly some more. He slowly circled the bases, touching home to get the third homer, something Bonds never did at Oracle Park. 

"He was joking about it after the first one, about talking to Barry," starter Logan Webb said. "Then he hit the second, then he hit the third. It was like, man, this guy is something else."

The Mets immediately jumped back on top, but the Giants kept grinding in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, Mike Yastrzemski walked and Darin Ruf singled, getting Pederson to the plate against Edwin Diaz, one of the game's best closers. 

"When the ninth started, it was like, let's just try to get to Joc," Kapler said. 

It would have been tempting for any hitter to dream of hitting a fourth homer and winning the game, but Pederson thought back to what Bonds had discussed for so long before the game. He told Pederson and LaMonte Wade Jr. to have fun and enjoy the game. He gave them ways to free their minds in the batter's box and chase that one pitch you can crush. 

RELATED: Joc smacks three homers in dramatic Giants' win vs. Mets

"It was just talking, freeing up the mind, getting rid of distractions," Pederson said. "I've talked to great hitters before and they're not as in-depth as him. Obviously the game came very easy for him, but he's also a master inside the ears at being able to stay focused."

Pederson lined a single up the middle, tying a franchise record for RBI that Crawford has a share of. Crawford followed with the game-winner to left. 

The raucous celebration came just over four hours after Pederson had rushed out of that office and gotten ready to play left field. It kept the Giants from what would have been one of the most embarrassing losses in recent franchise history. It didn't take all of the sting away for Rogers, such a valuable setup man the last three seasons, but it certainly allowed him to sleep better. 

Rogers and the rest of the Giants got the full Joctober experience, and it was more than they could have imagined. 

"It's good to see him do that for our team now," Rogers said. "For sure."

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