Pence Clears Big Hurdle

New Phillie Hunter Pence hit a double in the tenth and was batted in by Raul Ibanez for the game-winning run. (Matt Slocum/AP Photo)

Count Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle among one of the many who were truly impressed by the Phillies acquisition of Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros.

Hurdle was effusive in his praise before the Phillies swept the Pirates with Sunday’s 6-5 win in 10 innings at Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. It was a game in which Pence scored the winning run after he and Raul Ibanez hit consecutive one-out doubles.  

“He brings a defensive edge,” Hurdle said. “He brings a guy who can win games on field, on the base paths.”

And on offense?

“He brings a bat who protects the guys hitting in front of him and sets up the guys hitting behind him,” Hurdle said.

The Pirates manager was just getting warmed up.

“He is a good ballplayer, a very special ballplayer,” Hurdle said. “He has a chance to have some of his better years being in front of him.”

Hurdle says that Pence should especially prosper at Citizens Bank Park.

“The ballpark plays to his skills extremely well, he can bang the ball the other way” Hurdle said. “…It was a great acquisition for them.”