The San Francisco Giants face the true test this postseason, a test which has given them fits the past two years and one that has caused them to fail: Is there life after Angel Pagan? It’s kind of funny the way that works, how things during the regular season often don’t pan out the same in the playoffs.
Guys who have functioned at top level all year, suddenly become unhinged by the bright lights, the raucous crowds and the pressure. Always there is the pressure, so much greater than the regular season. Who wants to be the next Billy Buckner?
So, stuff happens that would never occur between April and September. If you don’t want to take my word for it, just ask Clayton Kershaw why things don’t go quite the same for him in October as they have gone for the previous six months.
The Giants have relied on Pagan, their center field energizer, since his pivotal role in the 2012 season. Relying on Pagan got San Francisco in big trouble last year as Pagan’s hamstring injury shelved him for almost half the season. Without their leadoff guy and center field specialist, the Giants were never able to make a run, losing the division to the Dodgers, even though they won the season series with LA.
May 27, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Angel Pagan (16) singles during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Again, this season, the Giants took it in the solar plexus when Pagan went down in early June, coincidentally plunging the Giants into a two-month free-fall from the best record in the majors,
The Giants took it in the solar plexis-again-this season, when Angel Pagan went down to injury with a back ailment.
to a second class wild card selection, with the dubious distinction of getting to face off against the rabid Pittsburgh Pirates and their frantic fans.
I repeat, is there life on earth without an Angel in the outfield? So far, the answer would appear to be yes. You see, the Giants are not your run-of-the-mill club, wilting under the halogen heat of October. Rather, they allow the heat to actually melt and mold the individuals together to form a single, unbroken unit, one that bends and flexes and stretches, but does not snap.
Hunter Strickland came into the game and faced down the red-hot Washington Nationals, Friday afternoon, a rookie with seven brief major league outings under his belt. He pulled the rug out from under the National League’s best team, record-wise, with a 100 MPH heater, that melted Ian Desmond instead, leaving the Giants free to maneuver to victory.
Joe Panik set a franchise record by getting two more hits to go with his three last Wednesday, giving him five hits in his first two postseason games. Madison Bumgarner and Jake Peavy, along with the entire bullpen, have made it very difficult for opponents to capitalize on the absence of Pagan.
Sink or swim together, with or without Pagan, the Giants are on the brink of proving that they can get along just fine without Angel Pagan, because it just isn’t the same in the postseason and you do not have the luxury of moping around, sniveling about the breaks. Get ‘er done no matter what it takes.
We’ll welcome Pagan back when he’s ready, but meanwhile, we’ve got a series to win against Washington.
With or without Angel Pagan.
Angel Pagan was one of several Giants on track for serious All Star consideration.