With the MLB season suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, there are no baseball games and limited baseball news. So I’m creating a hypothetical season — complete with news and recaps — until baseball resumes. All news and recaps will have the hypothetical tag, so you can at least know when you’re suspending reality. And you can click “hypothetical season” above the headline to see everything that has happened in this “season.”
Look up “Hunter Pence” in the dictionary, and this game will come up. This was as emphatically Hunter Pence as it gets. Consider that he did the following:
- In the first inning of a 0-0 game, with two outs and nobody on, Pence swung at breaking ball and very nearly missed it, with his bat just grazing the top of the ball. It was the epitome of a swinging bunt. He ran out of the box, and for the first five steps he seemingly was a cartoon character running in place, kicking dust and trying to find his traction. Then he dropped the clutch, caught tarmac, and took off. He lost his helmet, and stumbled and barrel rolled about 10 feet after first base, but was safe.
- On the next at-bat, Buster Posey (yes, Posey is hitting cleanup, do you have a better idea?) gapped one into right-center and Pence was off. He lost his helmet before he even rounded second base. He took a huge turn around third and it looked like he was going to slip and fall but he stayed on his feet. He slid into home, scoring safely and somehow managing to get dirt on his forehead, nose, and beard, as well as everywhere on his jersey.
- In the fifth inning, with the game tied 1-1, Pence came to bat with the bases empty. So far Kyle Freeland had struck him out swinging, and had the aforementioned swinging bunt. The first pitch of the at-bat was a breaking ball that Pence was about three feet on top of as he swung and missed. The second pitch of the at-bat was a fastball that honestly might have landed in catcher Tony Wolters’ mitt before Pence swung and missed. And the third pitch of the at-bat was another breaking ball that Pence lined over the left field wall for the go-ahead home run.
- Pence made a sliding catch and a diving catch. Both of them looked mighty impressive as they happened, though on the replays you could tell that with a decent jump he would have made the catch standing up. He left a divot each time.
And that was his game. Some swings and misses where you wonder how this guy is a professional baseball player, followed by some contact that reminds you exactly why. Some plays that could have been easier but were good nonetheless. Endless energy. A dirty jersey. A look of determination that always turned into a smile.
I loved every second of it.
Elsewhere, Johnny Cueto was very solid, mostly keeping the (admittedly bad) Rockies bats at bay. He wasn’t missing many bats, but he wasn’t allowing hard contact. The Giants won 3-1, earned a sweep (their first three-game sweep of the year), and improved to 28-31.