SAN FRANCISCO They met in center field and leapt inunison. Angel Pagan gloved the final out in the Giants 4-3 victory over theChicago Cubs, then he collided with Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco for acelebratory, triple-hip check.
There was nothing choreographed about it.
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Yes, the Giants starting outfielders are having as much funas it appears. Thats easy when youre breaking records, setting the table fora productive offense and whacking one pitch after another to the wall. But itseven better when theyre all doing it together.
Oh my God, its the best, Pagan said after Fridaysvictory. To me, weve got three center fielders running around. I dont thinkthe pitchers mind that, either. Definitely, you have fun playing with thoseguys. Were getting to know each other more and more.
Whats not to like about these three first-year Giants?
Cabrera, fresh off a 51-hit May, kicked off June withanother multiple-hit game. He singled and tripled to fuel scoring rallies inthe first and third innings. He leads the majors with 80 hits, 26 multiple-hitgames and seven triples.
His .376 average is the highest in the NL.
And its the highest by a (qualified) Giant on June 1 inalmost two decades. Barry Bonds, fresh off signing his record contract in 1993,had a .394 average on June 1 of that season. (Hat tip to the amazing DaveFeldman for crunching those numbers).
Cabrera even found a way to smile through some rather personalpain in the fifth inning, when he chopped a foul ball off his manly parts.Credit Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger with some solid bro points; he made a moundvisit to give Cabrera some time to gather his considerable thoughts.
The most important ball of the night belonged to Pagan, whoblooped a single in the third inning to enter the Giants record books. Heextended his streak to 25 consecutive home games with a hit. Its the longestin franchise history, or at least dating to 1918 when data is available tocheck such matters.
Pagan secured the ball from the hit and clubhouse managerMike Murphy also made sure to save him the lineup card. Pagan received waves ofhugs and handshakes upon returning to the dugout.
Hes hitting .356 at AT&T Park and he hasnt gonehitless since the home opener here. Thats quite an accomplishment in a parkthat causes mostly grumbles from hitters especially for Pagan, who endured awretched spring and had to hear whispers about losing a regular gig even beforethe season began.
We didnt start the best way I wanted, but every day I findsomething to do to help the team, said Pagan, who didnt know about the recorduntil hitting coach Hensley Bam Bam Meulens told him about it earlier Friday.
He said, Youre going to break a record today, Pagansaid. It feels good. Its not something Im looking to do, but it means Imdoing my job. Im getting on base. Its good. It feels good, the vibe from yourteammates, when they support you for what you do.
The Giants have a pretty good team vibe going right now.They have nearly cut their NL West deficit in half in five days, takingadvantage of the Dodgers four-game losing streak to creep from 7 out to fourout. Its the closest theyve been to first place since May 8.
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Blanco is a big part of that resurgence ever since becomingthe clear, everyday leadoff hitter. He entered with a .401 on-base percentageand led off the first inning with a walk, then scored on Ryan Theriots double.
Bochy credited Blanco with setting the tone for a lineupthat still lacks power, yet is taking the field with greater confidence.
You see the energy we have here, Pagan said.
Pagan had one more reason to be excited after the game. Hisfriend and former teammate Johan Santana, became the first pitcher in New YorkMets history to throw a no-hitter. Pagan said he was about to send acongratulatory text.
Johan is one of the best teammates Ive ever had, Pagansaid. I want to congratulate him because hes come a long way from hisinjuries. Thats a good thing. He competes and hes a horse. Weve got a lot ofthose guys here, too.