SAN FRANCISCO -- While Giancarlo Stanton’s leaping catch of Michael Morse’s drive at the wall in the eighth inning Friday night might have been more consequential -- it kept the Giants from getting their leadoff man likely to second base in a tied game -- the catch by Angel Pagan on Derek Dietrich’s drive to left-center with one out in the seventh was no less impressive.
Most notable was how much ground Pagan covered to make the catch -- on a full sprint, he ended up running into the Yahoo! Sign to the right of the 382 marker in left-center. It was the type of play that manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged today he wasn’t entirely sure Pagan would be able to make after having surgery last year to remove a tendon from his left leg.
"When I saw the size of the tendon they took out, that was scary-looking," Bochy said. "I didn’t know how much that would affect him, the speed and agility, so I had some concern to be honest. But when he started running around, those left right away. It looks like he hasn’t missed a beat."
Pagan’s offense is one thing -- he’s hitting .329 with 15 RBIs back atop the lineup. More to Bochy’s point, though, his movement doesn’t seem affected, with Friday’s catch just one example. Pagan is 9-for-11 on the season in stolen base attempts, and he has handled 97 putouts in center field while committing one error.
"He’s played great baseball on both sides," Bochy said. "He made a throw … in L.A. that was electric. He’s played a nice center field and last night was a great catch."
It has been stated and re-stated how much the Giants missed their leadoff hitter last year, and the fact they enter today’s game against the Miami Marlins tied for the most wins in baseball (27) only reinforces that. Pagan leads off again tonight against right-hander Tom Koehler, with the Giants’ full lineup looking like this:
And here’s the Marlins’ lineup against Tim Lincecum:
* Bochy said it’s a regular day off for Buster Posey, who was going to rest either tonight or in Sunday’s series finale. Gregor Blanco, meanwhile, gets a start over Tyler Colvin in left field.
"I could’ve gone either way with those two yesterday and today," Bochy said of the left fielders. "I want to keep Blanco going -- he had a nice pinch-hit last night, get him some at-bats."
Bochy also pointed out that Blanco is 3-for-6 lifetime against Koehler.
* Tim Hudson played catch before today’s game and remains on track to make his next start Thursday in Colorado. Bochy said Hudson is "making improvement like we were hoping" from his strained left hip, and the tentative plan is for Hudson to throw a bullpen session Sunday.
"I think all is good with him right now," Bochy said.
* Bochy was asked about not using Sergio Romo in the ninth inning of a 5-5 game Friday night -- Romo was warming up in the bullpen but didn’t get into the game -- and offered this explanation:
Had the Giants taken a lead in the eighth, Romo likely would have pitched. But with the game going to the ninth tied, the Giants had the pitcher’s spot due to lead off the bottom of the inning, meaning Bochy was going to pinch-hit for that spot regardless. He’d used several relievers already, and long reliever Yusmeiro Petit had started the game in place of Hudson, so Bochy had to be mindful of having relievers available for the possibility of extra innings.
Obviously, the game ended in regulation as the Marlins scored twice in the ninth. Bochy emphasized, though, that nothing was physically wrong with Romo, and said the bullpen should be pretty much at full strength tonight.
* Tim Lincecum is still looking for his first back-to-back quality starts and wins of 2014. He’s coming off his best start of the season -- 7 2/3 innings against the Braves, allowing one run on two hits and striking out 11. While Lincecum hasn’t yet recorded consecutive wins, the Giants are 6-2 in his starts this year.