Former Giants, Pirates shortstop Jose Pagan dies at 76

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Jose Pagan, a native of Puerto Rico who played 15 seasons with three major league clubs, passed away Wednesday at age 76.  No cause of death was initially announced.

Pagan debuted with the San Francisco Giants in 1959 and finished 11th in the NL MVP balloting after hitting .259/.312/.359 with seven homers and 57 RBI as the team’s shortstop in 1962.

In 1965, he was traded to the Pirates for Dick Schofield and he went on to play eight seasons with his new team.  A superior hitter in his Pirates days, he had his best offensive season in 1969, hitting .285/.325/.453 with a career-high nine homers and 42 RBI in 274 at-bats.  He was a utilityman by then, but a very good one.  In 1971, he played a key role in the Pirates’ World Series victory, doubling twice and driving in two runs in his four appearances.

Pagan finished up his Pirates career in 1972 and had 80 at-bats for the Phillies the next year before calling it quits at age 38.  He ended his career with a .250/.298/.344 line, 52 homers and 372 RBI in 4,032 at-bats.  He went back to coach for the Pirates from 1974-78.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.