One Pence Much the Richer
We didn’t know Hunter Pence from a fencepost when the Phils acquired him from the Astros a few months back. The first time we saw him, we sighed: Texas hayseed. Rube. What a goofball! What is with those high socks, dude?
But ya know, he won us over with his down-home, enormously contagious enthusiasm: “Good game! Let’s go eat!” And last night in Atlanta, in the top of the 13th, he sealed our love for him forever with a goofy, golf-y little bloop single to right that scored what would turn out to be the winning run in a 4-3 Phils win over the battling-for-a-wild-card Braves.
How important was the win for us? Not very. The Fightin’s had already clinched the NL East title and home-field advantage for the playoffs. That said, there were certain collateral benefits. Charlie Manuel squeaked by Gene Mauch for the role of all-time most winningest Phils manager. And the team set a record for most wins ever by the franchise, with 102, which, frankly, is cool as hell.
We’ll confess: Now and then in the course of the past few weeks, as the Phils rolled over and played dead for the the likes of the Nationals and the Mets, we tasted desperation. The bullpen did not look good, to put it mildly. But last night, Michael Stutes, Michael Schwimmer, Justin De Fratus (who?) and David Herndon all hung super-tough, shutting the Braves down.
So. Deep breath. On, now, to the post-season. Whatever happens—and as four-decade Phils fans, we’ve learned anything can—we have a new hero: loosey-goosey Hunter Pence. Welcome aboard, young man. Now bring us home.