There have been so many great defensive plays this year that it's becoming impossible to single out just one as the best of the year. But an already strong highlight reel got even stronger on Tuesday night with the diving catch that San Francisco's Angel Pagan turned into a double play during the eighth inning of a 3-2 win over San Diego.
''That was one of the best plays of my career,'' Pagan said. [...] "I wanted a good jump to try and prevent the runner from scoring.''
''It's going to be hard to find a better catch than Pagan's,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ''It goes to show that defense can win a ballgame.''
Pagan's dive reminded many of Gregor Blanco's great grab during Matt Cain's perfect game last month. And while it didn't preserve the type of history we'll always remember (like Blanco's did), it played a much bigger role in the Giants earning a win because Pagan's play came while the score was tied at two. Carlos Quentin's drive to the gap was seemingly going to change that with Chase Headley running from first, but the Padres' hopes and dreams somehow disappeared into Pagan's outstretched glove.
One inning later, Pagan and his relay-mate, shortstop Brandon Crawford, teamed up to get the winning run across the plate at AT&T Park. For fans of great defense and timely hitting, it was a game to remember.