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DENVER – Try to ask Hunter Pence about his personal stats and you’ll get a wince, followed by a three-second pause, and then a non-sequitur response about team success.
But he knows. Oh, he knows.
Good buddy Michael Morse let that much slip out Wednesday, when asked if he knew the name of the only major league player to score 100 runs this season.
“Hunter,” Morse said.
How did he know?
“Yeah, isn’t that great?” Morse said. “He told me after he scored it (Tuesday) night. He said, `That’s the first time I’ve ever scored 100 runs. Yeah!’”
Pence is just the second Giant in the last 10 seasons to score 100 runs. Aubrey Huff finished with exactly 100 in 2010. Barry Bonds was the last Giant to exceed 100, when he scored 129 runs in 2004.
Pence also leads the NL in hits and has played all but six innings in right field while starting every game this season. He missed just 16 innings while starting all 162 games last year, too.
“I’ve probably checked on him twice all year,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “You put his name in the lineup and let him go. You get energy every day. He’s got to be the lowest maintenance player I’ve had.
“Just got to make sure you put a bowl of kale out there for lunch and he’s good to go.”
Pence might be heating up down the stretch for the second consecutive September, too. He has a 15-game hitting streak, the longest by a Giant all year, and is hitting .393 with 17 runs, 15 RBIs over that span. With one more double and one homer, he’d join Willie Mays and Bobby Bonds as the only Giants in the San Francisco era with 30 doubles, 10 triples and 20 home runs in a season.
Pence isn’t getting a lot of MVP talk, but he’s third in the NL in WAR among position players and really should be a top-5 candidate. I’ve got one of the 30 ballots this year and I can’t imagine putting him any lower than fourth right now.
It’s the runs scored that have made the biggest impact for the Giants, though. Call runs a context-dependent stat, like RBIs, if you like. But scoring runs is the point of the game, right?
“Sure, you’ve got to have somebody knock him in,” Bochy said. “But he’s created a lot of those situations with the way he runs the bases.”
Pence is in the lineup, obviously, as the Giants try to take the season series from the Rockies. (The two clubs are tied 9-9 as they meet for the final time Wednesday.) Pablo Sandoval is not in the lineup, however, after going 0 for 5 amid the Giants’ 12-7 comeback win Tuesday.
“He needs a day,” Bochy said. “He’s a little run down. I mean, watching him, it’s evident he’s pretty beat up.”
He'll get two full days of rest before the Giants begin their series at Detroit on Friday. But no, Justin Verlander isn't scheduled to pitch over the weekend.