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Pence rounds the bases as ball just sits there

@jessicacamerato
June 12, 2019

BOSTON -- Inside-the-park homers aren't so obscure, but most don't involve an outfielder entering the stands while the ball carries on along the warning track. That's just what happened in the sixth inning of the Rangers’ 9-5 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday at Fenway Park, where Hunter Pence

BOSTON -- Inside-the-park homers aren't so obscure, but most don't involve an outfielder entering the stands while the ball carries on along the warning track. That's just what happened in the sixth inning of the Rangers’ 9-5 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday at Fenway Park, where Hunter Pence came away with a homer only he could hit.

With Texas leading, 7-3, and Nomar Mazara on second, Pence hit an 89.7 mph four-seam fastball and lofted a one-out drive off Bobby Poyner that landed just feet from Pesky's Pole in right field. The ball bounced off the wall, caroming toward center, but right fielder Brock Holt missed the ball and, even worse, missed the bounce it took off the wall.

“I just saw it bounce away from him,” Pence said. “I was like, ‘OK, so he didn’t catch it. The ball’s on the ground. Time to run.’”

Believing the ball had landed in the seats, Holt was in no hurry to pull himself off the wall.

“I got in the stands a little bit and I thought the ball went over the fence,” Holt said. “Just one of those things where I've kind of got to know where the ball is. The ball was slicing away from me, and when I ended up two rows deep in the stands, I assumed it had gone out. I had no idea it was still in play. That's kind of embarrassing on my part. Got to do a better job of paying more attention. That one was on me. I don't know if I would've been able to keep Hunter to a triple there, but I've got to go get that ball and get it in.”

Holt’s misread only helped Pence, who used his trademark hustle to cross the plate before center fielder Mookie Betts picked up the ball, which by that point was motionless on the warning track. The two-run homer, Pence's 14th in a resurgent season for the veteran, had a .030 xBA, according to Statcast.

“I knew it was shallow over there and the wind was blowing it,” Pence said. “I wasn’t sure if he was going to catch it, what was going to happen. I just saw the ball bounce and him on the wall. I was watching it probably a little too long because I was awkwardly around first base, so I just took off running because I saw the ball.”

Pence’s home run plated Mazara from second. Initially, Mazara thought Holt was going to make the catch, so he tried to stay close to the base to tag. When it dropped, Mazara didn’t have to worry about beating out a throw -- he had to beat out his own teammate.

“I didn’t think it was going to be a homer until I was running on second and I looked at right field and I saw the ball by the bullpen. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Mazara said. “Then I saw Hunter right behind me.”

Pence was bolting full force to home plate. He wasn’t about to listen to anyone telling him to do otherwise.

“I heard someone saying, ‘Slow down, slow down,’” Pence said. “And I was like, ‘I’m not slowing down until I see an umpire say something.’ I just kept running and sure enough, I made it home.”

The inside-the-park home run was Pence’s first, the Rangers’ 29th all-time and the team’s first since Rougned Odor on July 28, 2018, against the Astros. The last right-handed player to hit an inside-the-park homer at Fenway Park was Junior Spivey with the D-backs on June 9, 2002.

“It’s pretty special, especially because this is my first series here,” Pence said. “Kind of just a weird incident to be a part of. It’s really cool. I’ve never done it, so now I have. It’s a good feeling.”

Jessica Camerato is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Boston. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato.