Pagan's aggressiveness leads to Giants' victory

Outfielder swipes second base, scores winning run in walk-off

Pagan's aggressiveness leads to Giants' victory

SAN FRANCISCO -- Justin Maxwell applied the finishing touch to the Giants' 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Dodgers on Thursday, but it was Angel Pagan who applied the pressure.

Pagan scored the run that concluded San Francisco's three-game sweep of its archrival. He singled off Juan Nicasio to open the 10th, then put himself in scoring position by stealing second base one out later. That prompted an intentional walk to Brandon Belt to set up a potential double play, but Maxwell superseded that strategy by singling past third base as Pagan raced across home plate.

"He looked determined to go home, didn't he?" Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

Pagan's resolve often manifests itself in his speed. It's a commodity few Giants have in abundance, and though it's not the most essential trait for a ballplayer to possess, it always comes in handy.

"Speed can help you in so many different ways," Bochy said. "It puts pressure on the pitcher. ... He picked a good pitch to go on. At that point we're trying to make something happen. Great job on his part."

Said Maxwell, "Hats off to him. To steal that base in that spot, it shows the type of player he is. He has no fear."

Maxwell's walk-off single

Pagan does have plenty of common baseball sense. He explained that Nicasio's quick delivery of each pitch discourages stolen-base tries. But the right combination of circumstances developed as Belt batted. Sensing that Pagan might attempt to steal, the Dodgers called for a pitchout with a 1-2 count on Belt. Pagan didn't budge. Thent he successfully broke for second on the next pitch, reasoning that Nicasio wouldn't throw back-to-back pitchouts.

"It was a good pitch for me to steal second on, so I just went for it," Pagan said.

It was only Pagan's second theft of the season. He amassed 29 steals in 2012 and, though injuries nagged him during the following two seasons, he had 16 thefts last year.

Pagan's total might decrease this year even if he remains healthy. With Nori Aoki's arrival, he has moved to the batting order's third spot, ahead of Buster Posey. Pagan's wisest play when he reaches first base is to stay there, or else opponents often will walk Posey intentionally -- just as the Dodgers did with Belt -- to take the bat out of the cleanup hitter's hands.

"Because I have Buster behind me, I have to be smarter," Pagan said.

This doesn't mean he'll be milder, at least in his heart. Running, he said, "is always going to be part of my game."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.