Hunter Pence. Just reading that name probably calls to mind an image of the Giants outfielder -- perhaps one of his running, tumbling, all-or-nothing defensive plays. Or, maybe, sprinting so hard around the bases he nearly eclipses the runner ahead of him.
In the Giants' 4-3 win over the Rockies at AT&T Park on Tuesday -- a crucial loss that trimmed Colorado's hold on the second NL Wild Card to just one game over Milwaukee -- that nearly happened again. Starting pitcher Johnny Cueto was on first base in the fifth inning when Pence clubbed a two-run homer to center field. But even Pence's home run trot is too fast for Cueto, who heard footsteps as he neared third base and turned to tell Pence to slow down. Seriously:
Pence obeyed, since pitchers call the shots in baseball. It looked ... different:
Contrast that scene to a more customary Pence-on-the-basepaths moment like this:
Pence's homer proved to be a pivotal moment in the game, which San Francisco won on a game-winning sacrifice fly by -- who else -- Pence in the ninth inning.
"As far as his trot, I thought he hit the homer," quipped Giants manager Bruce Bochy about Cueto to MLB.com's Chris Haft after the game. "He was enjoying it."
Said Cueto: "Obviously, I was very happy when he hit the home run. I just kept telling him, 'Just go ahead and slow down and enjoy the home run,' because he's always running really fast."
As for Pence, well, he's a team player: "Whoever's in front of you, you have to go at their pace," he told Haft. "You can't pass them."