Last night (7/4) was one of those games that felt really bad, then suddenly euphoric. Not in the same sense that Sunday’s ambush of the TGMR (The Great Mariano Rivera) was, the 5-2 win over the Dodgers (I will refrain from any snarky nicknames referring to their bankruptcy filing: there but for the grace of Bud, and all that) was a satisfying and semi-dramatic affair that provided an emphatic clincher to a nice Fourth – even though I didn’t get to watch 1776 in the afternoon.
At the heart of it was Angel Pagan’s two doubles, one run scored and one RBI in five at-bats. He had one of those games where you look back and say, “He did pretty good.” And then – if you’re as curious a sort as I am – you back and look at his stats so far and say, “He’s been doing pretty good for awhile, now.” Angel’s contributions have been generally overlooked – with certain exceptions — in the glare of the offensive uprising in Detroit and the inevitable NYM vs. NYY circus. A few circumstances have conspired to keep Pagan’s season under wraps – a slow start, an injury that kept him shelved until the end of May and a slow climb for his offensive stats. But I’ll be damned if he doesn’t seem to be in the middle of every rally, with a big base hit, a slicing double, or a key stolen base. He has raised his batting average from a pre-injury low of .159 to a semi-respectable .250, coming into last night’s game and his on-base average from .259 to .335. In this lineup bereft of power in the absence of David Wright and Ike Davis, he’s hit anywhere from leadoff to seventh – even taking more than a few turns in the cleanup spot, despite a season-long OPS of .685 (hopefully his current residency in the leadoff spot will be short-lived – come back Jose!). He can run ‘em down with the best of ‘em in centerfield, as well.
What’s also lost sight of is the fact that he’s been around this organization from the beginning – an original Brooklyn Cyclone – and has seen ‘em come and go in the clubhouse. Having just turned 30 last week, he’s the closest thing to a sage, this side of Carlos Beltran. And don’t be terribly surprised if his accomplishments and clubhouse presence are brought further into the light if Beltran is wearing another uniform by the end of July.
Whether we know it or not, we fans actually do have a guardian Angel.