Coming into today’s game against the Colorado Rockies, Hunter Pence was batting a puny (AVG/OBP/SLG) triple-slash of .149/.163/.234 over his first 49 Giant plate appearances. In the back of my mind, I know it’s just 49 PAs. That, in baseball terms, it’s the equivalent of the blink of an eye, a millisecond of seasonal data. That things can change quickly at such a small sample, and it’s probably stupid to worry about a guy’s first 11 games with a team when he’s played baseball for six years in the majors at a pretty high level.
I know that stuff, but I still worry a little when Hunter Pence is hitting more like Emmanuel Burriss than, you know, Hunter Pence.
So when Pence drilled a three-run homer off of Rafael Betancourt in the 8th inning of today’s game — his first home run as a Giant, one that pushed the Giants into the lead, 9-6 — I got to exhale. I got to let out a breath of air, wipe my brow, and do a little fist pump. Lord knows what it must have felt like for Pence. To be the new guy, and to struggle, well, that’s got to stink.
But baseball is a sport that’s designed for the long view. Teams play 162 games in a single season, and then a handful more if they’re lucky enough to make the postseason. Things go really slow in baseball, and that’s often a complaint that’s levied against the sport: nothing happens, it’s too slow. So, it’s good to remind yourself of that fact sometimes. It’s good to remind yourself to take a step back, even if it’s just a slight shuffle back, and take a deep breath.
Of course, that stuff’s a lot easier to do when Hunter Pence — the new guy — hits a three-run bomb off a tough reliever.
* Belt had a fine day at the plate by going 4-4 with two doubles and walk. Belt’s wRC+ is now up to an impressive 113. As we saw in his last hot streak, Belt’s been making good contact lately. Over his last nine games, he’s come to the plate 27 times, while striking out only twice. I won’t dare say that Belt has figured out something that will help him as a hitter, but he’s clearly the team’s best option at first base on days when Posey is catching. That much is crystal clear.
* George Kontos had a rough outing, pitching 0.2 innings while giving up 3 hits and one earned run. Still, Kontos looks like he’s deserving of more leveraged situations when they present themselves. He’s been one of the better relievers this year.
* And finally, slider porn:
If Romo’s slider was a liquid, this would totally apply: I wish it were winter so we could freeze it into ice blocks and skate on it and melt it in the spring time and drink it!