Teammates in awe of Pence's spectacular catch
Right fielder robs Nationals slugger Werth at wall in sixth inning
SAN FRANCISCO -- Moments after a leaping Hunter Pence landed on the Giants' all-time highlight reel in the top of the sixth inning Tuesday night at AT&T Park, Gregor Blanco trotted over from center field, unsure if he'd be hugging the right fielder or motioning for a trainer.
"I was worried that he was hurt, but at the same time, I wanted to congratulate him, because that was huge," Blanco said after the Giants' National League Division Series-clinching 3-2 victory in Game 4 against the Nationals.
How did Pence react? Unconventionally. Just as you'd expect.
"He said, 'Calm down, and believe that we're going to win this game,'" Blanco said.
Conventional has always been an antonym for Pence, so it should come as no surprise that one of the best catches of his Major League career was anything but on Tuesday night.
With one out and an 0-2 count in the top of the sixth, Jayson Werth hit a 91-mph fastball from Ryan Vogelsong to deep right field. Pence tracked back to his left and leapt into a chain-link portion of the fence, with his left arm extended into the padded section. Reminiscent of Michael Jordan, a fully-extended Pence somehow snagged the ball, tongue out. He then bounced off the wall, landed with a thud and the ball secure in his glove.
The catch robbed Werth of at least a double and helped preserve what was then a 2-1 San Francisco lead.
"I knew he hit it hard, and I was just like, 'I know that our park is big,' so I was trying to run back as hard as I could," Pence said. "Judging, when I looked at it, I was like, 'I'm going to have to go as hard as I can to make a jump and a stab.' Fortunately, I was able to get it."
Added first baseman Brandon Belt: "I think Hunter always has a chance at it. That was a really tough play. I was astonished that he made that play. It's always unconventional with Hunter. It can be a routine pop fly and he's going to make it unconventional, but that's what makes him great. It's awesome."
Pence's teammates may never know what to expect next from the scooter-riding, colorful-language-spewing leader of their clubhouse, but they know not to deem any play impossible for Pence.
"He might not be the most conventional guy, but there's not a guy out there with a bigger heart or that plays harder than he does," second baseman Joe Panik said. "He's a true warrior out there.
"Nothing surprises me. He's battle-tested, he's gone through so much. He's the leader of this clubhouse, we rely on him and he comes through. That was a big, big play."
Manager Bruce Bochy said that given the circumstances, Pence's catch was one of the best he'd ever seen.
In true, unique Pence form, he might've been the only person inside the park Tuesday who saw it differently.
"Every catch is the same," Pence said. "To me, it's an out."
This one just happened to be one that will be shown for years to come.