While Joc Pederson has scuttled a bit at the plate over the last week, he continues to play a steady center field for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His defensive prowess was on full display Sunday as Pederson raced to track down multiple fly balls hit to the expansive gaps in Petco Park.
However, Pederson’s defining moment on the day, and perhaps the season, came in the ninth inning with the winning run on second base and Justin Upton at the plate. Upton had of course won Saturday’s game with an eighth-inning solo home run and drove in both runs
Juan Nicasio began the at-bat by pitching around the dangerous slugger, going to a 3-0 count. Then the Dodger reliever inexplicably left a pitch over the plate that Upton hit to center field. With the outfielders playing shallow, Pederson turned his back to home plate and made a catch moments before crashing into the center field fence.
While the catch sent the game into extra innings, which ended in a win for the Dodgers, Pederson largely deflected any praise. “He hit it well and I tried to go make a play on it,” he said. Pederson did allow the catch generated some momentum for the Dodgers before adding it led to a team win built on contributions from everyone.
As for where the catch may rank among others this season, which includes robbing Yasmany Tomas of a home run, Pederson again downplayed his impressive grab. “I think the situation for it makes it bigger than what it was,” he said.
When asked what’s been key to Pederson’s defensive success, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pointed to fundamentals. “He’s one of the few guys now that you see who will turn and run,” Mattingly said. “He runs to a spot and it allows him to cover more ground like that.”
Mattingly also noted he was more than pleased the Dodgers opted against trading the young center fielder when many were calling for the organization to do so at the 2014 trade deadline.
Adrian Gonzalez Wanted To Get Ejected