San Francisco Giants fans have not been shy with the way they have received newly acquired San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence.
From his fashionably late entrance into AT&T Park on Tuesday night to his first at-bat wearing the orange and black on Wednesday, it is obvious Pence is a player this fan base has embraced wholeheartedly.
“There was a ton of excitement,” Pence said. “The fans were great out here — it was loud and rowdy.”
Pence was gawked at during batting practice before the game, applauded while warming up in the outfield then received a standing ovation in his first at-bat as a member of the Giants.
It did not take long for Pence to be thrown into the heat of an at-bat that mattered at AT&T Park, either.
His first at-bat as a member of the Giants came with two runners on and two outs in the first inning with the team already down 1-0.
Pence flew out in foul territory to first baseman Ike Davis to end the inning and the Giants’ mini threat.
“You got to give him a chance to get settled in,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
However, it is clear Pence is a remarkable MLB talent — if the numbers with the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies the past six seasons were not enough.
Even his foul balls caused stirs on Wednesday night.
In his second at-bat, he hit an opposite field foul ball that cleared the brick wall down the right field line, drawing some oo’s and ah’s from the crowd.
Pence finish the night 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, but said the moment may have gotten to him at points in his debut — most notably during in his first chance at catching a fly ball in right field.
“It was kind of funny,” Pence said. “It was like really high and really slow and it was almost like time stopped for a second. It was the most routine fly ball, but everything was like ‘ah the suspense.’”
“I might have been trying to calm myself down too much, trying to just relax too much because there was a lot of adrenaline,” he said. “I’m not going to be 0-for-4 every night.”
The only thing that could overshadow the new bat’s debut was a rare bad start by ace Matt Cain.
Cain pitched five innings on Wednesday night, giving up seven hits and two runs.
“I couldn’t find a way to throw early strikes,” Cain said. “It was a constant struggle.”
“I put my guys behind the eight ball a little bit,” he said.
His pitch count was the major issue, hitting the 30-pitch inning mark in the first two innings.
The home run off the bat of Ruben Tejada on the first pitch of the game did not set the tone, either.
It was Tejada’s first home run since September 5, 2010, spanning 629 at-bats.
But in typical Cain-fashion, he kept the Giants in the game with only two runs allowed — despite the high pitch-count.
A Buster Posey solo home run in the sixth inning made the game 2-1, but that would be all the runs the Giants could muster on Wednesday night.
This game around, the Mets’ bullpen was able to preserve Jonathon Niese’s stellar start.
He pitched seven innings, giving up only three hits and one run.
“Niese was on tonight. I’ll give him that,” Pence said.
Gregor Blanco made the defensive play of the game in center field on Wednesday night, possibly one that could rival the catch made to preserve Cain’s perfect game in June.
Blanco ranked that catch as the best of his career.
He proclaimed his catch on Wednesday night the second best of his career.
“I haven’t seen many catches like that,” Pence said. “He was playing in the exact right spot as well and laid out to every inch of his body. It was sweet.”
“I said that might be the best catch I’ve ever seen in person,” he said. “I watched the (perfect game catch) on T.V. I got to see this one in person.”
Bochy did say after the game that catcher Hector Sanchez would be activated from the disabled list and that he will be catching Barry Zito in tomorrow’s day game just to give Posey a day off behind the plate.
The coinciding move is Eli Whiteside, who will be optioned back to Triple-A Fresno to make room for Sanchez.