Angel Pagan has been a godsend for the San Francisco Giants this year, shining late in the season as the team makes its first bid into the playoffs since its historic 2010 World Series win. During Tuesday night’s 9-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies, Pagan once again made his mark on the season by blasting his 12th triple of the season, tying him with Hall of Famer Willie Mays (1960) and Steve Finley (2006) for most triples in a season since the Giants moved out west in 1958.
“Those are names that are like legends,” Pagan said after the Tuesday’s game. “The way Willie’s been to me — I never saw him play, but my dad did, my father-in-law did, and I’ve seen a lot of highlights. Just like Roberto Clemente, I never saw him play, but the way he went about his business in baseball and the legacy that they left in the game is something that you really want to follow. Willie Mays is an example I’d like to follow and a person I’d like to have by my side all the time to learn about the game.”
Pagan’s right-center gaper gave the Giants some much needed breathing room, knocking in pinch-hitter Aubrey Huff on his triple and tagging up on a Marco Scutaro sacrifice fly to go up 7-5 in the sixth inning. San Francisco held onto the win after Rockies’ pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin slapped his 18th homer of the season off of closer Sergio Romo, with two outs in the ninth inning. Shortly after, Romo got Jason Giambi to pop out to end the game.
“That was big to add on and give us a little cushion, which we needed as you well saw,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
The triples’ mark is just one of the many examples of why Pagan has lifted this Giants’ squad to a NL-West six game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers with little over three weeks to play in the season. The 31-year-old outfielder’s contributions have come at a steady pace during the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, Pagan has batted a .297 average (second-best on the team) with a .340 on-base percentage and a robust .438 slugging percentage, all for a leadoff hitter. With runners in scoring position and two outs in the inning, he’s even better. Pagan hits at a stellar .302 clip with 17 RBIs on 53 plate appearances this year, which ranks best on the team.
As the Giants look to fend off the Dodgers down the stretch of the 2012 regular season, Pagan will be an instrumental part of their offensive outburst. The Puerto Rican-born Pagan is projected to finish with 76 runs, eight home runs, 62 RBIs and an astounding 29 stolen bases on the year. Not bad for swapping him in for San Francisco’s last starting center fielder Andres Torres, who is hitting a career-low .222 with the New York Mets.
Well done General Manager Brian Sabean, well done.