Pagan at center of two unusual plays
Center fielder starts triple play, hits inside-the-park homer
WASHINGTON -- Maybe the stars were aligned just right. Or it might have just been his night. Whatever the cliche or reason, Angel Pagan experienced something special Wednesday.
Pagan got an inside-the-park homer in the fourth inning. He started a wild triple play in the fifth. He even added a great diving catch that saved at least one run in the sixth. But all of that wasn't enough as Washington beat the Mets, 5-3, at Nationals Park.
The biggest moments were the homer and the triple play. Pagan is only the second player to achieve the rare double feat in the last 55 years. Phillies shortstop Ted Kazanski initiated a triple play and hit an inside-the-park homer on Sept. 25, 1955, against the New York Giants, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That was also the last time a team pulled a triple play and hit an inside-the-park homer in the same game, Elias said.
This was Pagan's second inside-the-park homer of his career. The first came on Aug. 23, 2009, against Philadelphia, a game in which a triple play was also converted, but by the opposing Phillies, as Eric Bruntlett got an unassisted putout to end the game.
Pagan said he was proud of what he did but would have felt better if the struggling Mets had won the game. They've now lost nine of their last 11 and fell to 19-22.
"I was just trying to play the game hard," Pagan said. "It didn't matter, because we lost. Like I say, I was just trying to do my job and play hard for the team. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win."
TRIPLE PLAYS IN METS HISTORY
|5/17/2002||San Diego Padres||5-4-3|
|8/5/1998||San Francisco Giants||3-6-3-2|
|5/31/1964||San Francisco Giants||6-6-3|
|5/30/1962||Los Angeles Dodgers||6-4-3|
Pagan, catcher Henry Blanco, pitcher R.A. Dickey, shortstop Jose Reyes and first baseman Ike Davis all had a hand in the somewhat bizarre triple play. It began when Cristian Guzman hit a sinking line drive to short center field with Livan Hernandez at second and Nyjer Morgan at first with no outs.
Pagan raced in to make the catch and then tried to throw to second to double off Hernandez, who had already gotten close to third.
But Pagan's throw sailed over second base and bounced toward the mound, where Blanco raced in to scoop it up. He then fired to Reyes on second to double up Hernandez -- and Reyes then threw to Davis at first to complete the triple play, as Morgan had already gotten to second base. Dickey was trying to direct Blanco where to throw, running right beside him, and everything worked out.
The umpires conferred for a few moments about whether or not Pagan had caught the ball, but they eventually said he did. This was the Mets' first triple play since they turned one on May 17, 2002, against the Padres. It was the 10th triple play in team history.
"It was a tough catch, but I made it," Pagan said. "I was just going after the triple play, but I don't know if they called a no-catch. I just told Reyes to step on second and throw to first base."
Both Morgan and Hernandez took off, thinking the ball was going to drop for a hit. The two Nationals baserunners gambled and left the door open for the Mets to turn that triple play.
"I thought it was a base hit," Hernandez said. "It was a mistake I made. I wasn't supposed to run. I had to wait until he dropped the ball. If I waited, I knew I was going to be out at third base anyway."
Pagan already had an unusual play in the game when he got an inside-the-park homer off Hernandez in the fourth. His line shot eluded a leaping Morgan in center field and bounced toward left-center. Pagan never stopped running and beat the relay throw home.
Pagan also helped Dickey by making a diving catch with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth. That turned into a sacrifice fly for Roger Bernadina and a 2-1 Washington lead, but it could have scored at least one more run.
"He made a couple of really great plays or it could have been a lot different," Dickey said. "He really saved the day on a couple occasions."
Pagan is now hitting .277, and his talents are impressing manager Jerry Manuel, who said that he'll be in the mix somewhere even when Carlos Beltran returns from knee surgery.
"[Pagan is] a very good athlete," Manuel said. "He's probably our best athlete. Over the years, he's been off the charts in that area. He's starting to play very well."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.