The San Francisco Giants do not have to wait much longer for the return of one of their favorite players. Hunter Pence started in right field for the Sacramento River Cats as they began a four game series against the Albuquerque Isotopes.
Hunter Pence started his long awaited rehab stint after being struck by a fastball in spring training. He suffered a small fracture in his left forearm that has kept him from playing any baseball this season. The crowd filed in wearing black and orange Giants attire filled with excitement to watch their hero from there World Series Championship team. Hunter did not disappoint his fans. In his very first at bat he hit a sacrifice fly to right field scoring Ryan Lollis from third base. Although he officially went 0-2 with a sac RBI, you could feel the energy Pence brought to the stadium from the fans to the team and even the media members in the press box. He plays so intensely and gives everything he has at all times.
Hunter Pence was clearly the fan favorite and warranted most of the cheers but Sacramento River Cats power hitter Adam Duvall would show up as the hero once again. In the bottom of the 4th inning Duvall hit his team leading ninth homerun of the season. This would give the River Cats all the runs they would need to get the victory on a warm May evening in Sacramento. There is a lot of discussion going on about Duvall, including when will the Giants pull the trigger and call this guy up? He has power (9 homeruns) average (.331) and has been healthy. These discussions are clearly only going on around Duvall and not necessarily with him. As he has said before he doesn’t pay attention to the outside talk and is focused on staying consistent.
River Cats pitching has been very good this season, especially from the bullpen. Scouts are even saying that they have the best bullpen in all of AAA minor league baseball. Pitching was at a premium again for Sacramento. Left-handed prospect Ty Blach had a very strong start going 6.2 innings without giving up a run. Blach had the Isotopes off balance through every inning with his great slider and outstanding change up that just drops off the table. The River Cats were trying for their second shutout of the season until relief pitcher Michael Broadway gave up a run on line drive RBI single by Dustin Garneau in the ninth inning. The River Cats won the first game of the series giving Blach (3-2) his third victory of the season. Chad Bettis received the loss for Albuquerque.
Saturday night the teams will face off for game two in front of what already has been announced as a sellout crowd. Hunter Pence will start in right field again after his traditional sprint from center field. Travis Ishikawa and Erik Cordier are also on rehab assignments from the San Francisco Giants.
By Joe Vicory