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Hunter Pence leads the offense in five-run outburst

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Hunter Pence hit a dinger and a weird double. Just like the old days.

San Francisco Giants v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Last night, the Giants were eliminated from postseason contention. Tonight, Kelby Tomlinson and Chase d’Arnaud hit first and second in the order. Aramís García played first base. We have officially exited “Still trying to win baseball games,” territory. This is… good? Better to let the kids play while the crusty vets rest or in the case of Hunter Pence, take a victory lap.

Boy, what a victory lap it was and hopefully will be. Though the Giants are no longer trying to win baseball games, Hunter Pence is still trying to do good baseball things the best he can. When he manages to do it, it’s a treat to watch.

In his first at-bat, Pence hit a very, very long dinger.

In a few years, I’m not going to remember a whole lot about this month of Giants baseball, but I’ll remember that home run. I won’t remember the context of the game because why would I allocate brain space to a Giants-Padres game in September, but I’ll remember Hunter Pence standing at the top step in first inning as if he were a rookie making his debut. I’ll remember Pence taking his weird violent swing. I’ll remember Duane Kuiper saying, “It’s going to hit the scoreboard.”

If this were a heavy-handed baseball movie, it would have smashed out the part of the scoreboard that lists his OPS. The stats don’t matter. All that matters is Pence hitting a capital-T Tater like he had never stopped hitting them. Hunter Pence is a good Giant and a good dude, and his days with the team and possibly with baseball are coming to an end. The best possible scenario for the next few weeks is Pence playing like he’s 28 again, and that’s what he did tonight.

Pence followed up his dinger with an RBI hustle-double that was oddly reminiscent of his walk-off against the Padres earlier this year. He followed that up by stealing third. A good throw would have gotten him, but if Cubs fans can say Javier Baez induces chaos then so can Pence, dang it. He forced that poor throw from Austin Hedges. Clearly, Hedges was distracted by Pence’s unorthodox baseball stockings.

Pence did ground into a force out at home with the bases loaded and nobody out. He’s still a Giant, after all. But Pence had himself a heck of a game. Honestly, after murdering that pitch dead in the first, he could have shown up to each of his subsequent at-bats with his uniform inside out and swinging a pool noodle, and I still would have said he had a heck of a game.

The only runs not driven in by Pence were driven in by Chris Shaw. Immediately after Pence grounded out, Shaw dumped a bloop down the left field line. The hit didn’t light up the Statcast leaderboard, but it was a base hit with runners in scoring position and every one of those the Giants can get is a precious, precious thing.

Shaw’s last few days have certainly been encouraging. Over the last three games, Shaw is 6-for-10 with two doubles and a walk. He also hasn’t struck out in that time. So what I’m seeing is that Shaw is going to have a .900 OPS next year.

Chris Shaw was also robbed of a chance to rob a home run. In the fifth inning, Shaw went back on a Franmil Reyes fly ball and leapt at the wall. Meanwhile, a fan reached over, knocked his glove out of the way and caught the ball.

Shaw was reaching straight up into the air and his glove got bent over by the dude in the teal. If the dude in the teal were not there, there’s a good chance Shaw catches that. Plays like this are rarely turned over, but I thought there was a legitimate chance this was going to come back.

This probably isn’t worth getting mad over. Remember, this was a Giants v. Padres game in September, and both teams have been eliminated. Also, the Giants *checks score* won the game.

If you want to be mad at an umpire, be mad at Lance Barrett for gifting the Dodgers a run by standing on third base during a play at third base.

That game eventually went to extra innings, and the Dodgers won. They got one of their runs because an umpire stood on a base where a play was being made.

Instead, appreciate this still image and the many expressions contained therein.

The gal in the top right wears a countenance of placid joy. The guy in the Padres button up wears the expression of indignant concern. The woman in the Ken Caminiti era Padres jersey looks like she was unaware this Gallagher fella was going be smashing watermelons in his comedy show. The woman to her is waving to an old friend off camera. There’s a Giants fan that looks like she just found out that Archie and Sheryl of Riverdale are actually siblings! (Or something. I don’t know. I’ve never seen Riverdale and I don’t intend to.)

The gal to the right of the dude in the teal says it all. She knows this man is transgressing. He is committing the number one rule of going to a baseball game: Don’t interfere with a ball in play, dummy.