Pence goes deep twice in same frame
Outfielder leads off fourth with homer, adds three-run shot
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager Brad Mills doesn't expect right fielder Hunter Pence to hit two home runs in an inning at any point in the regular season, but it doesn't hurt to request an encore performance of what he did Thursday once the season begins.
"Can I put my order in for two home runs?" Mills said.
Pence, the Astros' starting right fielder, homered twice in the fourth inning of the Astros' 15-5 win over the Washington Nationals in their Grapefruit League opener at Osceola County Stadium, leading Houston's five-homer, 21-hit outburst.
"It's a nice start," said Pence, who has hit 25 home runs in each of the previous two seasons. "But it's still Day 1, and there's a long way to go. It felt good today, and maybe I was a little too excited. But what can you say?"
Pence went 3-for-3 with four RBIs and two runs scored and played only four innings. He doubled to center in the first before homering to left field off Shairon Martis to lead off the fourth and hitting a three-run homer to center off Joel Peralta later in the inning. Pence crushed both balls and watched the brisk wind help carry them over the fence.
"The big key was laying off some balls and getting ahead in the count," Pence said. "I got to look for a fastball over the plate, and fortunately, I was able to connect with it."
The high-energy Pence admitted he was eager for Spring Training games to start.
"I love the game," Pence said. "I had trouble sleeping last night."
Pence couldn't help but notice teammate Michael Bourn giggling a few feet away upon the comment.
"I know everybody will make fun of me, but I was very excited," he said. "It felt good to play some baseball and play well."
Mills has been impressed with Pence's work ethic.
"He's been working every day early, during batting practice and later," Mills said. "That's Hunter. That's how he does things. It's no surprise for him to be right on target right out of the chute."
Yordany Ramirez, Chris Johnson and Jason Michaels also homered for the Astros.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.