Pagan breaks Mays' record, channels his spirit


Pagan breaks Mays' record, channels his spirit


PHOENIX When Giants center fielder Angel Pagan hit his 13thtriple of the season Saturday night, breaking the San Francisco-era franchiserecord, the presence of the two men who previously held it could be felt inChase Field.

One was Steve Finley, because he was in the flesh to witnessit. Coincidentally, Finley was in the building to play in an ArizonaDiamondbacks alumni game later that night.

The other, Willie Mays, was there in spirit. But what apowerful spirit it was.

Pagan hit his triple in the first inning. He made a basketcatch of a ball hit directly over his head in the second inning.

It wasnt justreferential. Mays actually taught Pagan this spring how to catch a ball likethat.

As Pagan explained, he had a similar play early in the spring and he couldnthaul it in.

The next morning, the first person I see is Willie Mays,said Pagan, smiling at the memory. And he said, 'Hey, I gotta talk to you.'

He told Pagan the trick is to run full speed and then slowdown. That way, your head isnt moving as much and you can track the ball intoyour glove.

It was good advice from him and I applied it on that play,Pagan said. That really helped me because Im always full speed, man.

When Pagan tied the triples record a couple days ago inColorado, he was unaware of it. But he was thrilled when he heard the news frommanager Bruce Bochy, calling Mays his mentor.

He repeated some of those sentiments after taking thatrecord for his own.

Now that we won, I can celebrate, he said. Its a specialrecord. Thats my game. Every time I hit a ball in the gap, I think three.

Finley hit his 12 triples in 2006, when he was in his 40s and not the player he used to be. But he used the dimensions of AT&T Park to his advantage, and had seven triples in his first 30 games.

"But probably five of them should've been home runs," Finley said. "I got frustrated, of course, and so I started to swing harder. I might have hit more if I had stayed with my swing. Even playing as long as I did, I let the park get in my head. San Francisco is a triples ballpark."

Perhaps this should be pointed out, then: Pagan has hit six triples at home, and seven on the road. His three-bagger Saturday was the first one he's hit from the right side.

"You always wonder why he hadn't broken out yet," Finley said. "He's got a great swing, he can run, he has all the tools. If a guy like that gets enough opportunities, he gets a chance to figure it out. So good for him, and good for the Giants."

If Cubs get to World Series, injured slugger could make surprise return


If Cubs get to World Series, injured slugger could make surprise return

As if the possibility of clinching their first National League pennant in 71 years didn’t create enough drama and excitement in Wrigleyville, the Cubs have sent Kyle Schwarber to the Arizona Fall League, hoping he can add another chapter to his October legend.
Schwarber earned this chance after beating every expectation in his recovery from major surgery on his left knee in April. The Cubs haven’t ruled anything in or out – and still need to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers one more time this weekend – but they want to see how he responds on Saturday with the Mesa Solar Sox and ultimately decide if he would be a viable designated-hitter option for the World Series.
Schwarber gained clearance on Monday from Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating outfield collision during the first week of the regular season. Schwarber immediately phoned president of baseball operations Theo Epstein after the six-month checkup.   
“I wasn’t expecting the call,” Epstein said. “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard. 
“He asked for a chance to do this. And with as hard as Kyle has worked and as much as this means to him – and potentially to us – we wanted to give him that opportunity.”


Kershaw stands between Cubs and first World Series since 1945

Kershaw stands between Cubs and first World Series since 1945

Clayton Kershaw stands between the Cubs and the World Series, a possibility that left veteran catcher David Ross thinking about Ric Flair inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse late Thursday night: To be The Man, you got to beat The Man. 

“Woo!” That’s how the Cubs like to punctuate their postgame celebration routine, channeling the professional wrestling legend in a ritual with so much sensory overload that the fog machine set off fire alarms throughout the underground Wrigley Field lair…after a win in the middle of August. “Woo!” 
The Cubs left Los Angeles one win away from their first National League pennant since 1945, and with two chances to pull it off this weekend at Wrigley Field, beginning on Saturday night in Game 6. So imagine how this crew would trash the Party Room if they beat Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. 

“The guy competes,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s pretty much like mechanics be damned, it’s just about me beating you somehow. 

“He’s got a good fastball that he locates. He doesn’t walk people. He’s got a dynamic curve and slider. And he’s got deception. He’s a little bit funky, and that’s got to be hard to pick up. The ball gets on you pretty quickly, and then he commands it. 

“So there’s nothing you could possibly ask for that he doesn’t already have.”

Now we’ll see if something clicked while the Cubs turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 NLCS lead – handling rookie starters Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda and the softer parts of the Los Angeles bullpen – or if those 18 runs combined in Games 4 and 5 were a mirage.

In 16-plus innings so far, the Cubs still haven’t scored a run off Kershaw, if-necessary Game 7 lefty starter Rich Hill or dominating closer Kenley Jansen, who got this review from Maddon: “He’s like a 100-pound heavier version of Mariano Rivera. He’s the bigger man with the same kind of stuff.”