Cubs’ David Ross, Giants’ Joc Pederson take center stage

Chicago Cubs manager David Ross and San Francisco Giants outfielder Joc Pederson figure to again have all eyes on them as they get an opportunity to continue a friendly rivalry Saturday night when the clubs meet for a third consecutive time in San Francisco.

The teams have split the first two games of a four-game set that has featured impressive pitching and an eye-catching gesture made by Ross to Pederson early in Thursday’s series opener.

The Cubs and Giants are meeting for the first time since last September, by which point Pederson had been traded from the Cubs to the Atlanta Braves.

The veteran moved on to San Francisco in free agency in the spring, and on Thursday was seeing Ross — and the Cubs — for the first time in more than a year since the Chicago-Atlanta deal last July 15.

According to both parties, they exchanged pleasantries before Ross, standing in the visitors’ dugout at Oracle Park, was caught on television flashing two middle fingers in Pederson’s direction.

Before Friday’s rematch, Ross and Pederson were left to explain the friendly banter that led overnight to a social-media frenzy.

“I should definitely know better,” Ross said. “It was kind of my hello to a friend of mine on the other side and just got caught on camera. Poor taste.”

Confirmed Pederson, noting he wasn’t going to make the same mistake: “Yeah, he was just making a joke. Nope. Not gonna get me.”

An All-Star this season for the Giants, Pederson went 0-for-2 with a walk in Thursday’s 4-2 Giants win before seeing no action in Friday’s 4-2 loss in the rematch.

The longtime Los Angeles Dodger hit just .230 with 11 home runs in 73 games for the Cubs last season.

He’s never faced the Cubs’ scheduled Saturday starter, left-hander Drew Smyly (3-5, 3.93 ERA). Pederson and Smyly were teammates and World Series champions with the Braves last year.

Smyly pitched for the Giants during the 2020 season, going 0-1 with a 3.42 ERA in seven games (five starts).

He has faced the Giants three times in his career, twice as a starter, and has gone 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA. That includes a one-inning relief stint for the Braves last September in which he pitched a scoreless eighth inning in a 2-0 loss in San Francisco.

The 33-year-old has gone unbeaten in his last five starts bridging a monthlong absence due to an oblique strain. He’s gone 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in those games, having allowed just two earned runs in 10 1/3 innings in his last two outings.

Smyly is slated to duel Giants right-hander Jakob Junis (4-2, 2.98), who has made two appearances, one as a starter, since suffering a strained hamstring last month. He’s coming off a 4 1/3-inning start during which he allowed just one run in a 7-0 loss at Arizona on Monday.

The 29-year-old has made just one start against the Cubs, allowing one run over five innings in a 3-1 Kansas City loss in 2018. He did not get a decision.

–Field Level Media