Connor Joe hopes to make the San Francisco Giants continue to pay for what might have been a rush to judgment when the Pittsburgh Pirates go for a road-series win Wednesday afternoon.
The Giants have outscored the visitors 15-6 in the first two games of the set but had to settle for a 1-1 split after their bats fell asleep in a 2-1 loss Tuesday following a 14-run explosion Monday.
Joe helped set a different tone in the rematch when he, as the third batter of the game, belted a John Brebbia slider over the wall in left field for an immediate Pirates lead.
The homer was just the 21st of Joe's career, four of which have come against the Giants, who were his employer for 23 days during the 2019 season.
The San Diego native was originally drafted by Pirates in 2014 before getting traded first to the Atlanta Braves and then to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cincinnati Reds plucked the prospect off the Dodgers' roster in the 2019 Rule 5 draft, and shortly thereafter traded him to the Giants, for whom he went 1-for-15 with a walk and five strikeouts in 16 plate appearances early in the 2019 season.
The Giants had seen enough at that point, and because it's allowed with Rule 5 selections, they sent him back to the Dodgers. He eventually signed with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent in 2020, then got dealt for a fourth time last December, this time to the Pirates.
He's now 22-for-68 (.324) in his career against the Giants. The four homers are the most he's hit against any opponent.
The 30-year-old insists he's finally feeling settled in after the whirlwind beginning to his career.
"I feel great. I learned a lot about my body (over the years)," he said. "I'm just looking forward to the future."
If Joe makes his 38th start of the season Wednesday, it will be in support of Pirates ace Mitch Keller (6-1, 3.01 ERA), who benefitted from 11 runs of support in his worst outing of the season in his last start, when he allowed six runs in six innings in an 11-6 win at Seattle last Friday.
The right-hander has struck out eight or more batters in six straight games.
Keller has never beaten the Giants, going 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three career starts. The 27-year-old threw six three-hit innings in an eventual 4-3 home win over the Giants last June but didn't get a decision.
The Giants are expected to counter with left-hander Alex Wood (1-0, 3.51), who went a season-best 5 2/3 innings en route to his first 2023 decision in a 15-1 win at Milwaukee in his most recent start last Friday.
The 32-year-old has gone 6-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 14 career games, including 13 starts, against the Pirates.
Tuesday's low-scoring affair was decided by a fifth-inning wild pitch, one that Giants manager Gabe Kapler thought rookie catcher Patrick Bailey let get away as he was preparing a pickoff throw to third base.
"I think on that one he was thinking about another back-pick," Kapler said of a throw behind Pirates runner Rodolfo Castro at third base. "We love the aggressiveness. Most of the time that'll work in our favor. He's very athletic back there."
--Field Level Media