Hunter Pence celebrating a walk-off double Sunday.

It’s been a rough season for San Francisco Giants’ outfielder Hunter Pence, but he came through in a big way Sunday, and provided one of the more unexpected endings in a while in the process. The Giants trailed 2-1 in the bottom of the 11th against the San Diego Padres, and Pence came up to bat with the bases loaded (thanks to a double from Andrew McCutchen, an intentional walk to Buster Posey, and a hit-by-pitch for Brandon Crawford) and one out. He quickly fell behind 0-2 against Brad Hand, but then shot a ball through the right side of the infield for a game-winning two-run double:

That’s pretty remarkable, especially considering how miserable this season has been for Pence. Pence is a three-time all-star (most recently in 2014), but this year saw him only hitting .191 heading into that at-bat, and his numbers now stand at .193/.242/.216 overall. Of course, that’s in just 95 plate appearances over 33 games, as he missed 40 games earlier with a sprained thumb. But he hasn’t been good when he has played, he’s been benched in some recent games, and there have been calls to examine trading or releasing him (and even some calls for him to retire). And while he did start in left field Sunday, he went hitless in his first three at-bats. But he sure came through here (recording his 13th career walk-off hit overall, and his second against Hand), and his teammates loved it:

Pence said afterwards he was thrilled to come up in that situation:

“It’s like a kid on Christmas morning for me. …It’s what you dream of every day, with a game like this where our pitching battled, our defense battled, both sides’ pitching was outstanding, and I just wanted to put a good swing on whatever he threw up there, lay off the high fastball, and he’s got a really nasty slider. It’s just competing; you’ve got to trust your hands and do the best you can, and fortunately I found a hole.”

One hit in one game isn’t going to kill all the questions Pence is facing, of course. He’s still hitting below .200, and he’s 35, an age where many have seen a significant career downturn. And last year (where he hit .260/.315/.385) wasn’t good by his standards, either. But maybe this will be a moment Pence can build on, and maybe the rest of the year will go better for him. Even if it doesn’t, he’ll have this memorable moment of once again delivering for the Giants in a key situation.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.