Pence makes a signature catch in home debut

Pence makes a signature catch in home debut

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Pence's catch of Adrian Gonzalez's sixth-inning drive to right-center field on Tuesday night might not have been the stuff of legend and bobbleheads, as his grab against Washington in last October's National League Division Series became.

But it probably was one of the most discussed events among those who witnessed the Giants' fifth victory in seven games this season over the Los Angeles Dodgers, a 2-0 verdict.

Pence's play highlighted his return to AT&T Park following his season-opening 36-game absence with a fractured left forearm and his return to the lineup last weekend at Cincinnati. He drew enthusiastic cheers when he ran and stretched before the first pitch, when he was introduced with the other starters and particularly when he made his first plate appearance of the game in the second inning. Many in the crowd stood to express their affection for Pence, who proceeded to go 0-for-4.

"This ballpark is special," Pence said as he reciprocated the fans' appreciation.

Pence inevitably made an impression during the Giants' fourth consecutive victory. He did so to start the sixth by settling under Gonzalez's tall ball, which briefly appeared destined to erase the Giants' 1-0 lead. Ranging into right-center field, Pence became intimate with the padding next to the archway that starts the out-of-town scoreboard as he hauled in Gonzalez's fly.

It didn't rank among Pence's most challenging catches. But it wasn't routine, either.

"You never know," Pence said, referring to the wind that can change a batted ball's course. Because of the breezes, Pence added, that part of the ballpark "is different every day."

Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, "It's a tough play for an outfielder. It gets up there and the wind's wreaking havoc. But Hunter is as good as anybody around that wall."

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.