“As shocking as it was, it wasn’t shocking,” Swanson said.
“That’s a good way to put it,” Braves pitcher Ian Anderson interjected, smiling.
Said Swanson: “Joc is Joc. I love having him around. I can’t mention enough how much of a joy he’s been to be here and to keep things light.”
Pederson is a serious hitter. His addition has been key for the Braves. He one of four outfielders acquired by general manager Alex Anthopoulos before the trade deadline. Jorge Soler was best among them as the Braves won the pennant. Pederson has delivered the big hits in the postseason.
He’s 3-for-3 with two pinch-hit homers against the Brewers. Pederson’s solo shot in Game 1 wasn’t enough. His homer in Game 3 provided all the runs the Braves needed to beat the light-hitting Brewers.
“To come up big in a moment like that was pretty cool,” Pederson said.
It’s become routine for Pederson. He’s played in the postseason in each of his seven full big-league seasons, including six times with the Dodgers. In 67 postseason games Pederson is hitting .286 (44-for-154) with 22 home runs, 24 RBIs and a .361 on-base percentage.
Said Swanson: “I think the sample size is big enough that that’s just who he is.”
Back to the Pederson’s pearls. He said they are real ones that he got them from his jeweler. According to Pederson, the pearls were an impulse purchase.
“I just saw the pearls and I was, like, ‘You know what? That looks cool,’” he said.
About the home run, which came on a high fastball that didn’t appear to be a good pitch to drive: “I guess I’m just a pretty good player. I don’t know. Just knocked it out of the yard.”
Asked to describe his personality, Pederson said: “I don’t know if I have a ‘media answer’ for that. I’m just me. But I don’t know. Next question.”
OK, what about Pederson’s seemingly unflappable persona in the postseason?
“I just feel like I do the same that I do during the year,” Pederson said. “I don’t know. There’s no secret recipe. I wish there was.”
What you see is what you get with Pederson but, apparently, he’s not too keen on talking about it. No matter. Pederson is carrying the big stick for the Braves at the most important time of the year. He’s been their offensive punch in a series that’s lacked it.
The Braves are just 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position during the series. Pederson’s Game 3 homer is one of those hits. Freddie Freeman’s RBI single in Game 2 is the other. The Braves are in control of the series with great pitching and just enough offense.
The Brewers have been even worse with runners in scoring position: 0-for-8 in Game 3, 0-for 16 overall. Milwaukee has scored two runs in three games, all on Rowdy Tellez’s pinch-hit homer in Game 2. The Brewers gave given no indication they can score enough to win this series. Heck, they may not score again before they are eliminated.
The Brewers got just three hits over five innings off Anderson. Two were singles. The other was a double by Omar Narvaez in the fifth after Anderson hit Luis Urias with a pitch to lead off the inning. After Swanson made a good play on Lorenzo Cain’s ground out, Brewers manager Craig Counsell sent up Daniel Vogelbach to pinch hit for Danny Peralta, who’d struck out five and allowed three hits.
Vogelbach is a hulking slugger like Tellez. He couldn’t deliver like his teammate. Vogelbach pounded Anderson’s 2-2 pitch into the ground. Third baseman Austin Riley scooped the ball and chased Urias down the baseline. Urias was out and Narvaez stayed at second. Kolten Wong to lined out to first baseman Freddie Freeman to end Milwaukee’s half of the inning.
The Braves started the bottom half with singles by Travis d’Arnaud and Dansby Swanson. They’d already wasted a run with Duvall’s bad base running. They had to score with two runners on and no outs. Snitker decided to hit Pederson for Anderson, who’d thrown 84 pitches.
The choice paid off. Pederson turned on reliever Houser’s 1-2 fastball and sent it 402 feet out of the park. The Braves were on their way to a victory. Maybe no one was happier about that than Duvall.
He was on first base and Austin Riley at third in the second inning when Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit a deep fly ball to right fielder Christian Yelich. I watched Duvall break for second. The best thing for him to do was retreat to first. Once Duvall made the mistake of going to second, the next best thing would be stopping before running into the out.
Instead, Duvall kept running even though it was clear the throw would beat him to second base by several feet. Yelich’s throw hit Kolten Wong’s glove at about the same time Riley was starting his slide at home. If Riley touched home before the tag then the run would count, but home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez ruled that he didn’t.
Pederson’s homer made all that moot. His performance as a pinch hitter in the series raises the question of why Snitker just doesn’t Pederson in the lineup. Snitker said that’s a possibility for Game 4.
Said Pederson: “My role right now, that’s my role. And (I’m) doing the best I can to succeed in it and help the team win. So not really worried about the other stuff. That’s kind of outside noise.”
The good noise is the sound of chants at Truist Park for Pederson, who came through for the Braves.