SAN FRANCISCO -- Tension should have reigned during Wednesday night's 10th inning as the Giants, desperately needing a victory, were locked in a 3-3 standoff with their chief rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.Yet, the Giants were laughing in their dugout.The object of the guffaws was right fielder Hunter Pence, who
SAN FRANCISCO -- Tension should have reigned during Wednesday night's 10th inning as the Giants, desperately needing a victory, were locked in a 3-3 standoff with their chief rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Yet, the Giants were laughing in their dugout.
The object of the guffaws was right fielder Hunter Pence, who was almost literally hacking at shoulder- and head-high pitches from Los Angeles reliever Thomas Stripling with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Most sane hitters would have taken a pitch, but Pence, who quickly fell behind on the count, fouled off four two-strike pitches before pulling a 95-mph fastball to left field that scored Gorkys Hernandez for a 4-3 walk-off win.
Obviously, Pence's penchant for free-swinging preceded him.
"If he had walked," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Pence, "it probably would have gone down among the most amazing walks ever."
Pence thus was at once a hero and the butt of humor.
"It's hard not to laugh," catcher Buster Posey said. "He's probably the only guy who can do that [hit such elevated pitches]. All of us who have played with him for a while have seen him hit that pitch for a homer."
Pence explained that he was simply following his baseball instincts.
"At that point, I had to battle," he said. "I just tried to shorten up and fight."
For Pence, the Giants' triumph made all of the friendly abuse worthwhile.
"That was quite an energy jolt right there," he said. "It's one of those special moments that can change a season."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.