Huff puffs way to inside-the-park homer
Giants slugger 'gassed' after legging out shot to right-center
SAN FRANCISCO -- Aubrey Huff finally hit his first home run as a member of the Giants, but he had to work for it.Huff hit his first career inside-the-park home run Wednesday, circling the bases to lead off the second inning against Pittsburgh right-hander Charlie Morton. Huff's feat opened the scoring in San Francisco's 6-0 victory. "When I hit it, I thought it was gone anyway," Huff said. "In most parks it is. I saw it bounce off the wall and as soon as I rounded first I saw it took an amazing hop and I thought, 'Oh boy, here we go.' " Huff hit a first-pitch drive that struck the inner portion of the middle archway among the three in the right-center-field wall. The ball caromed away from Pirates right fielder Garrett Jones and skipped into right field. "Most of the balls are going to go off to the left because of the way it is slanted," Jones said of the wall. "It hit kind of that indentation in the corner and kicked hard to the right. There's nothing you can really do about that. It's just one of those freak plays." By then, Huff was rounding second base at full speed. He slid home without drawing a throw, indicating that he didn't need to slide. But at that point, Huff didn't know any better. All he knew was that Mark DeRosa, the on-deck batter, was practically spread-eagled on the grass, signaling Huff to slide. "I was already gassed," said Huff, who has hit 203 traditional home runs. "So I didn't need that. ... I didn't even know where I was at that point. If he told me to slide, I'm sliding." Pablo Sandoval playfully fanned Huff with a towel shortly after he returned to the dugout. "I don't remember," Huff dryly said of Sandoval's service. "I blacked out." Many a clout that would be a home run elsewhere has ended up as an extra-base hit or even an out in right-center at AT&T Park, where the 421-foot marker mocks batters. Huff hit one such ball on Monday when he tripled against Pittsburgh. "Everybody in Spring Training told me, 'You'll see, you'll see,' " Huff said. "I said, 'Come on, if you get it, it's gonna go.'" Huff actually flirted with two more homers on Wednesday. He flied out to the center-field warning track in the third inning and doubled high off the right-center-field wall in the sixth inning. "I've never had a three-home run game," Huff said. "I'm going to go ahead and chalk up today as a three-home run game in my mind." Though Huff's double nearly duplicated the path of his inside-the-parker, he didn't try to extend his trip past second base. "I don't think he could have made it around again," Giants manager Bruce Bochy jokingly said. Huff's round-tripper was the fourth regular-season inside-the-park homer at AT&T Park since it opened in 2000 and fifth overall, including the one hit by Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki in the 2007 All-Star Game. "It makes it even more amazing what Barry Bonds did here," Huff said. "Hitting 73 homers here [Bonds' record single-season total in 2001] is just mind-boggling."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.