The San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 in Game 7 of the NLCS to advance to the World Series, but they really broke the game open early thanks to a strange play in the third. Right fielder Hunter Pence hit a ball that twisted and turned so much it was befitting of the quirky player he is.
Pence swung at the first pitch from reliever Joe Kelly with the bases loaded and broke his bat on a 94mph fastball. After the initial contact, FOX’s 3000 frames-per-second camera showed that the ball slid down his bat where he hit it a second time, and it slid down further where he hit it a third time. By that point, the ball was slapped away with so much spin, it started tailing and curved away from Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma.
The ball went into the gap and allowed two runners to score. Buster Posey scored from first after Jon Jay was unable to pick the ball up cleanly in the outfield, giving the Giants a 5-0 lead. They scored two more to go up 7-0 after three innings.
Was Giants manager Bruce Bochy surprised with the bizarre play?
“Only Hunter, maybe Pablo [Sandoval] could do that too, but I think only Hunter has the ability to hit a ball like that.
“He’s unique in his style of hitting. I don’t know a shortstop that would have made that play. We’ll take it. Breaks help you win games like this,” said Bochy.
Players who bounce around from team-to-team have a tough enough time getting adjusted to a new situation and being able to click with their new teammates, let alone becoming a clubhouse leader. From the sound of it, that has not been an issue for Hunter Pence.
The Giants outfielder has played for three teams over the past two seasons, having been shipped from Houston to Philadelphia last season and Philadelphia to San Francisco earlier this year. Despite the fact that he is still a relatively new face with the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy said it was Pence’s speech that got the team fired up when they were in an 0-2 hole against the Reds prior to Game 3.
“Hunter (Pence) got up and he just spoke from the heart,” Bochy told KNBR in San Francisco. “Passionate speech and I’m not sure we knew what he said but how he said it, the gist of it was ‘hey we’re not done, we’re not ready to go home.’ That seemed to really fire up the guys. Tremendous job by him and you love when a player steps up. Sure they hear it from me but to have a teammate step up the way he did and the emotion he did when he was speaking it just charged the whole club up.
“They played like it and these guys were determined not to go home. We want to keep playing.”
Considering this is the same Pence who seemed legitimately surprised when the Phillies traded him at the deadline, you have to admire his leadership qualities. Speaking to a locker room full of grumpy players who have put themselves on the brink of elimination isn’t easy for a veteran. It’s even more challenging for someone who has been with the team for just over two months.
In the internet age and with tools at our disposal like Twitter and Facebook, it’s tough to imagine any professional athlete is ever surprised when they’re traded. Everything starts as a rumor, and if you keep up with sports news you usually have an idea of any move that’s about to be made before the announcement is made official. Hunter Pence says he didn’t do that, and that’s why he is surprised the Phillies shipped him to San Francisco on Tuesday in exchange for prospects.
“(I didn’t know about it) until it happened,” Pence said according to CSNPhilly.com. “I didn’t hear anything. This year I honestly really didn’t pay attention to any of that, so I didn’t hear rumors. I talked to the media like, maybe, one time. So really it just kind of happened. Now I’m on to play for San Francisco and hopefully be in a playoff race.”
Tuesday’s MLB trade deadline gave us a Phillies mini-firesale, with the club shipping two-thirds of its starting outfield westward. Not too long after trading Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, the last-place Phillies sent right fielder Hunter Pence to the Giants. The latter deal, however, poses a problem to the team’s promotions department, which had scheduled a Pence bobblehead giveaway day for Aug. 21’s game against the Reds.
But, fear not, bobblehead aficionados and Hunter Pence fans:
For those wondering … Pence bobble head giveaway is still on as scheduled Aug. 21.
We’ve seen the A’s do this previously with Jason Giambi. The truth is ball clubs get promotional items weeks, sometimes months, in advance of their distribution date, often long before unforeseen roster transactions happen. So, the Phillies somewhere in the doldrums of Citizens Bank Park have thousands of cheap toys that marginally look like Pence readily stashed away, and they are not just going to throw them in the dumpster.
But it still has to be weird for the Phillies to celebrate a guy they unceremoniously shipped away three weeks prior. The Phillies can’t do anything right when it comes to bobbleheads.
Hunter Pence hilariously ran over Phillies third base coach Juan Samuel while trying to score from second on a double by Juan Pierre during Saturday’s game against the Braves. Pence didn’t loop out before rounding the bag like players are taught, and he was so wide of the base line that he ended up running into Samuel and bowling the coach over.
Samuel stood with his hat knocked off and hands on his waist after the unexpected trucking, and he genuinely seemed to be ticked off with Pence. Pence meanwhile found the entire episode hilarious and tried hiding his laughter in the dugout.
Maybe Samuel needs to start throwing on some catcher’s gear before heading out to the third base coaching box.
Hunter Pence is just absolutely killing life right now. One of the better young outfielders in the game, Pence spent the first four seasons of his career with the Astros — a team that quickly became one of the worst in all of baseball. After a season in which he belted 25 homers and knocked in 91 runs, it was clear Pence was outgrowing his potential in Houston. Then, Hunter got the phone call every MLB player dreams of when he found out he was being traded from one of the worst franchises in the MLB to one of the best.
Now, Pence plays for the Phillies. His starting pitching staff is one of the best in the game and the lineup he has been inserted into is stacked. In 54 games after being traded to Philadelphia, he hit .324. As Crossing Broad has informed us, he also started dating a Playboy Playmate named Shannon Jones somewhere along the line, who recently tweeted that she is on her way to Cabo with her man. Simply put: it’s good to be Hunter Pence.
I’ve done my due diligence in adding her to our tremendous list of Steve’s smokin’ hot sports girlfriends, while also rounding up the somewhat SFW photos of the Playboy model. If you want to venture around the internet for the NSFW pictures, well, she is a Playmate.
There are a lot of things that could have contributed to Hunter Pence having a mind lapse during Monday night’s Phillies-Rockies game. For one, Pence is still new to Philadelphia after being traded at the deadline. Perhaps his nerves are still acting up a bit. Also, the game had gone to extra innings. Pence, along with everyone else, may have been tired and ready to call it a night. Whatever the case, it’s pretty amusing to see someone stroll to the plate with a doughnut still on the bat.
Imagine no one said anything to Pence and he ripped one into the gap? Now that would be impressive. Earlier in the same night we saw a player hit a broken bat home run and another home run leave seam marks on a woman’s knee after it bounced off her and back into play. No need to feel bad, Hunter. It was just one of those nights where strange things seem to happen.
The Houston Astros have been hammered by many folks for trading away All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence at the deadline this year. I’ve always thought Pence was a pretty good player, but nothing special. His All-Star appearances have been more the result of circumstance (playing for the hapless Astros) than stellar performance. Still, he should help the Phillies who could use the offensive boost. The good news for Philly is that Pence is under team control for the next two seasons, so his salary shouldn’t get too ridiculous. But let’s not shrug this off as if it were a bad deal for the Astros.
Houston is the worst team in baseball this year. They’ve been at least 10 games under .500 the last two seasons. There really wasn’t too much upside for keeping Hunter Pence, so why not trade him and get some players in return? The Phillies wanted him and gave up four players, three of whom aren’t bad (the fourth is to-be-determined).
All three prospects Philly gave up are young, low-level guys but they have some promise.
It’s been a while since we’ve had an LBS Golden Sombrero sighting, so let me refresh your memory. When a player goes 0-for-4 in a game and does nothing but strikeout each time up, he earns the Golden Sombrero. For the nearly impossible 0-for-5 with five strikeouts, the player receives the rarefied Platinum Sombrero. Well Sunday at Wrigley Field, Astros right fielder Hunter Pence went 0-for-4 with four punch-outs, earning the coveted Golden Sombrero.
Now Houston won the game 6-5 so that should slightly ease the pain for Pence. The good thing about Hunter’s Sombrero is that he was up there hacking, striking out swinging the first three times. By the fourth at-bat, he probably was so discouraged he decided to keep the bat on his shoulders and go down honorably. The one comment I will make is that at least Pence punched out the first three times against a fireballer like Rich Harden, so that’s nothing about which one should be embarrassed. Hunter’s also hitting .323 this year even after the Sombrero, so better days should be expected.
He’s a rookie center fielder for the Houston Astros, and he’s absolutely killing the ball. The 24-year-old former 2nd round draft pick of Houston in 2004 is batting .355 through 16 games this year, with 15 RBI. But check out what the rookie’s done recently — the Giants haven’t gotten him out once this series. Pence is 7 for 7 against San Francisco, and 11 for his last 14. The kid’s OPSing an incredible 1.071 so far. So what gives? Who is this guy?
Well, according to Baseball America, Pence was the Astros top prospect in 2007. In 308 career minor league games, Pence hit .302 and OPS’d .932. He averaged a home run nearly every five games. And in November, despite hitting .339, Hunter was sent home from the Arizona Fall League because of a DUI arrest. Scouts say he’s very competitive player with an infectious makeup, and high energy. Best part is he teared up a bit when his manager Jackie Moore informed him of his call up. So can he keep it up? Only time will tell, but there’s no question that he has the proven track record. We’ll be keeping our eye on this kid to see if he’s the next great thing in Houston. It sure looks that way right now.