Hunter Pence was poised to be the hero again.
His second home run of the game was going to put the Texas Rangers ahead in the ninth.
It was going to be a three-run shot off Houston Astros closer Roberto Osuna Thursday night at Minute Maid Park. Osuna had only allowed one earned run in 15 1/3 innings this season.
But as Pence’s opposite-field shot jetted towards the right-field wall, outfielder Josh Reddick began tracking the flight and leaped perfectly to rob Pence and the Texas Rangers of comeback glory. Reddick made the catch for the second out in the inning and Osuna struck out Joey Gallo to strand runners at the corners.
“Wow,” Pence said to himself as he watched Reddick’s robbery. “This is the big leagues. And he’s one of the best outfielders I’ve ever seen. He’s done that a lot. He’s robbed me of some really good swings. That’s what happens when you’re competing at the highest level.”
The 4-2 loss stung Rangers manager Chris Woodward, who saw a chance to improve to 5-2 against the Astros evaporate in a flash.
“It’s frustrating, obviously. To see the fight in our guys every night,” Woodward said. “That guy hasn’t been touched all year. We almost had three off him. Should have had three off him aside from a great catch.”
Reddick said he was playing a little deeper to prevent any potential game-tying doubles. That may have given him the time to make the catch.
“I know it hit my glove and I know I didn’t get it in the webbing; I got it towards the top,” Reddick said. “I made sure I did the little quick grab and bring it back down before it flopped out of there. I just reached in my glove and it was there. Definitely a surprise, but at the same time I had a good feeling I could make it.”
Astros manager A.J. Hinch didn’t like the looks of it off Pence’s bat.
“It wasn’t a good feeling. Off the bat it popped a little bit,” Hinch said. “He’s a strong guy and Reddick was tracking it. You just don’t know if it’s going to come down in time. He jumps up, Spider-Man style, and comes back with it. The range of emotion is pretty much everything from ‘Oh [crap]’ to ‘incredible catch.’ That’s the bottom line. I’ve tried to put that play out of my head.”
That will be a little harder for Woodward, Pence and the Rangers.