For all the criticism Joc Pederson has faced in four seasons, he’s proven to have a knack of delivering for the Los Angeles Dodgers in critical moments. Monday night against the Colorado Rockies, in the opener of the Dodgers’ biggest series this season, wasn’t any different.
Pederson led off the bottom of the first inning with an opposite-field home run off Jon Gray. It was a ninth leadoff homer of his career and sixth this season. Pederson was only getting started.
He led off the third inning with a double and scored two batters later when Manny Machado’s blooper into shallow center field eluded a sliding catch attempt by Charlie Blackmon. With the Dodgers sitting comfortably ahead in the fourth inning, Pederson clubbed a two-run homer.
It came off left-handed relief pitcher Harrison Musgrave, marking Pederson’s first homer against a southpaw this season. The multi-home run performance was the eighth of his career.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts noted his young outfielder’s track record of hitting key home runs for the team. It’s welcomed production that Pederson wasn’t able to fully explain, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I don’t know. I mean, I guess try to treat all of the moments the same. Treat them all the same and hopefully it doesn’t get too big. Yeah, I don’t know.”
Aside from hitting 26 home runs as a rookie in 2015, earning a spot in the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, Pederson’s heroics began in 2016. Max Scherzer had thrown six shutout innings in Game 5 of the National League Division Series but gave up a leadoff homer to Pederson in the seventh.
That sparked a four-run inning that propelled the Dodgers to a win and matchup with the Chicago Cubs in the NL Championship Series. Pederson then hit home runs in Games 2, 4 and 6 of the 2017 World Series.
Although his pair of blasts against the Rockies weren’t under the postseason microscope, the win put the Dodgers back in first place in the NL West. It also gave Pederson four home runs in his past six games.